A historic week beckons for the two British clubs as they prepare for their first leg in the Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt.
While a European trophy is undoubtedly a key driver, automatic entry into the Champions League is also a goal pursued by all four of these clubs.
No team in world football has won as many league titles as Rangers. However, despite their domestic exploits, the club has only won one European trophy in their 150-year history: the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup.
West Ham have not cleared many trees on the continent either, having won the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
RB Leipzig was only formed 12 years ago, but they are already the semi-finalists of the Champions League, making the last four in 2020.
Eintracht, on the other hand, has the most shining European CV considering they made a European Cup final and won the 1960 UEFA Cup and the 1967 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
Here we take a closer look at both semifinals.
RB Leipzig vs Rangers
Despite having had a management change earlier in the season, this could be a strong season for RB Leipzig. The team is on course for a top four place in the Bundesliga and could still finish the season with a DFB Pokal/Europa League cup double.
Rangers are six points behind in the Premiership title race but are looking forward to two cup wins under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, after the Gers defeated Celtic in Hampden to reach the Scottish Cup final.
Those are probably the only similarities between two clubs that couldn’t be more different. While Rangers is a club built on history and tradition, RB Leipzig is the epitome of the modern football landscape.
RB Leipzig’s unbeaten run of 15 games came to an end last weekend when they lost 2-1 at home to Union Berlin. The visitors scored two goals in the last four minutes and gave Domenico Tedesco just his third defeat as Leipzig boss.
Interestingly enough, it was the first time in over two months (13 games) that RB had conceded more than one goal in a game.
Rangers haven’t been so cerebral having lost three of their last eight games. However, Van Bronckhorst’s team is in the middle of a four-game winning point and can cause problems in Germany.
In their final game, the defending Scottish champions defeated Motherwell 3-1 to maintain their six-point lead over Celtic.
Europa League knockout stage trip
RB Leipzig 5-3 Real Society
Borussia Dortmund 4-6 rangers
RB Leipzig (walkover) Spartak Moscow
rangers 4-2 Crvena Zvezda
RB Leipzig 3-1 Atalanta
Braga 2-3 rangers
West Ham vs Eintracht Frankfurt
Unlike Rangers and RB Leipzig, these two clubs have a lot more in common. For example, both have faced degradation in recent years. Both have also come back strong and are now challenging the status quo in their respective leagues.
The problem is that both West Ham and Eintracht Frankfurt have endured some tough results in recent weeks, meaning their hopes of European qualification for next season rest on this ongoing Europa League campaign.
The financial benefits of winning this competition are significant, but playing Champions League football next year could be the spark that pushes either of these two clubs to the next level.
West Ham have performed well for most of the Premier League season to keep up with their top six challengers, but it looks like the Hammers are starting to pick up steam at the crucial time of the season.
A win in their last five games has dropped David Moyes’ men to seventh in the standings – still just two points from Manchester United.
In their last appearance, the Hammers were narrowly beaten by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge when Christian Pulisic scored the only goal of the game in stoppage time.
Eintracht has suffered a similar fate. Their hopes of competing for the top six in the Bundesliga have been thwarted in recent weeks by poor form.
In fact, Eintracht have only won one of their last eight matches. Interestingly, that one win came away at Camp Nou when they beat Barcelona 3-2 to make their semi-final appointment with West Ham.
Europa League knockout stage trip
West Ham – bye
Eintracht Frankfurt – bye
Seville 1-2 West Ham
Real Betis 2-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
West Ham 4-1 Lyon
Eintracht Frankfurt 4-3 Barcelona
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