Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt have been clocking up the miles pursuing success in the Europa League.
The sides meet in Seville with a trophy on the line and nobody will have an easy time predicting just how the showdown in Spain will go.
Rangers have already beaten two Bundesliga sides in the competition, Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig, while Frankfurt shocked Barcelona and dumped West Ham out of the tournament.
Each of those victories was down to strong performances, and each performance was underpinned by the players giving their best individually and as a collective.
Tournament organisers UEFA have compiled statistics for every team, every step of the way, and we’ve taken a look at some of the headline numbers before the finalists meet at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.
Goals, goals, goals
There’s no stat more important than the scoreline and Rangers have found the net more than anyone else. The Ibrox club has scored against every side they’ve met in European competition this season, and hit the back of the net at least three times against each knockout opponent.
Granted, Rangers have played two games more than their closest challengers, but with 22 goals they are two clear of second-placed Frankfurt, three better than Braga and Lyon and have found the net four times more than Napoli or West Ham.
The result should come as no surprise given the shooting stats. Rangers have taken 160 attempts at goal over their 14 games and only Braga have attempted more (190). Frankfurt’s 20 goals came from 151 shots.
What would come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t watched Rangers, or paid attention to the competition, is the identity of the top goalscorer. Traditionally a spot taken by the leading marksman from a top club’s forward line, this year’s number one scorer so far is Rangers captain and right-back James Tavernier.
Tavernier has hit the net seven times, ahead of Porto forward Galeno and Lyon’s Karl Toko Ekambi, who are tied in second place with six each. Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada is in fourth with five to his name.
Perhaps because both sides have reached the final as underdogs, the possession stats don’t show either Rangers or Frankfurt as being among the sides stroking the ball around with ease.
Not for the first time, Barcelona top a table based on possession percentages, with 64.8% across their six Europa League games. Rangers sit 25th with an average 47.8% and Frankfurt are two places below that on 47.7%. An interesting aside for Scottish football: Celtic are 16th with 51.3%.
With those numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that neither finalist is near the top of the table for passing accuracy either. The Ibrox club sit 23rd in the standings this time with 80.9% accuracy, having attempted (and completed) more passes than anyone else in the competition. Frankfurt trail four places further back.
Rangers show up well in the individual stats, though perhaps it reflects a team that’s comfortable to hold the ball at the back before carrying the game forward. Connor Goldson and Tavernier have tried more passes than anyone else, with the former completing an unrivalled 596.
The player numbers should act as warning to Rangers fans about Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic though.
The midfielder’s five assists mark him out above all of his peers, while the Serbian number ten’s three goals show he can finish as well as deliver. It’s also worth noting that only Braga’s Ricardo Horta has had more attempts on goal than Kostic, who averages just shy of three shots a game.
Anyone who has seen Rangers in Europe in the last few years will know how well organised the team has been defensively, but the hard work to keep opposition attackers at bay is borne out in the stats.
Not only that, but it seems Frankfurt have relied on similar strength.
The two key defensive stats UEFA measure have an identical 1-2 at the top of their ranking. Rangers, then Frankfurt, then the rest.
The straightforward “balls recovered” column has Rangers dominating with a total of 595 recoveries across all games, with Frankfurt on 563, while the tackle count across all 40 teams in the competition proper has Rangers way out in front with 131 tackles so far, and Frankfurt in second place with 113.
Rangers star Goldson stands tall with most balls recovered, but three of the top five are Frankfurt players. The Bundesliga side have a trio in the top ten for most tackles as well. They will not be an easy nut to crack for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team.
Allan McGregor has not been short of work either. The goalkeeper has caught the eye with some stunning stops at big moments and the numbers back up his contribution to the cause.
No goalkeeper has made more saves in the competition, the Scot has saved a penalty along the way and though Rangers are only sixth in the table for clean sheets, McGregor’s three matches without conceding is one better than Frankfurt.
Plenty to play for
The numbers will continue to rise throughout Wednesday’s match and while the medals are being handed out, it’ll be easy to see whose contributions have helped their club to glory.
So far, the stats show that the solid foundations Rangers have had throughout the competition can stand them in good stead against Frankfurt, while the attacking players will have their work cut out to break through Frankfurt’s own defence.
Connor Goldson will continue to be a key player, but James Tavernier’s contributions at both ends of the pitch are clearly marked in the individual numbers.
UEFA name a Europa League player of the season each August and if Tavernier was to lead his team to victory while top scorer and part of one of the hardest-working defences in the competition, he may well be looking at an individual award as well as the big prize the team is aiming to land on Wednesday.
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