Rangers head to Germany out to salvage pride by launching an epic comeback against Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.
Rangers have their work cut out for Thursday’s second leg against Leverkusen in the Europa League last-16, needing to overcome a 3-1 deficit from the first leg to book passage to the quarter-finals.
Making matters worse was losing the opening fixture at Ibrox, giving Leverkusen three valuable away goals. Therefore, Rangers need at least three goals in Germany to overturn the deficit. It won’t be easy, but the Glasgow giants won’t go down without a fight either.
Kai Havertz, Charles Aranguiz, and Leon Bailey were the goalscorers last time out for Leverkusen, with George Edmundson on target for Rangers.
Whoever wins this tie will meet either Inter Milan or Getafe in the quarter-finals.
Bayer Leverkusen Form & Team News
Die Werkself head into the return leg at a key disadvantage regarding match fitness. The hosts haven’t played a competitive match since losing the DFB-Pokal final to Bayern Munich on July 4. Those three away goals from the first leg, therefore, could be vital.
Not helping Leverkusen’s cause was the patchy run of form they finished their domestic campaign on, winning just five of their last 11 games. The inconsistency cost them a top-four finish in the Bundesliga.
But while Peter Bosz’s men are behind Rangers in fitness and suffered their fair share of setbacks lately, they’ll be more than motivated for Thursday night knowing that Europa League glory guarantees passage into next season’s Champions League.
They’ve also performed well in the Round of 32 against FC Porto by winning 2-1 at home and 3-1 away.
Conceding 18 goals and keeping just three clean sheets in their last 11 fixtures across all competitions is a worrying stat, though. Especially as nine of those goals conceded came at home.
On the squad front, meanwhile, Kai Havertz will likely start despite the constant doubts over his future. The 20-year-old’s presence will be welcome, as he’s scored in all three of their Europa League games.
The only absentees are Paulinho (injury) and Kerem Demirbay (suspended).
Rangers Form & Team News
To be fair, Rangers have perhaps overachieved in the Europa League after starting the campaign in July 2019. So competing in the last-16 stage a year later is a fine achievement indeed.
Steven Gerrard has guided his men through tricky encounters against Feyenoord, Porto, and Braga while losing just once before Rangers met Bayer Leverkusen at Ibrox on March 12.
Although the Gers boss has reason to be optimistic about this clash, with his side winning all their five games since returning from lockdown last month. True, four of them were friendlies but were still positive results.
Last weekend’s opening day 1-0 win at Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership, meanwhile, was a little too easy. They owned their opponents, tallying 61% of possession and 15 shots.
All eyes will be on Ryan Kent, who scored the winner against Aberdeen, and Alfredo Morelos to supply the goals at the BayArena with Jermain Defoe doubtful. Nikola Katic is also a doubt.
While new signings Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe cannot feature as they weren’t part of the 2019/20 squad.
Prediction & Betting Tip
Bayer Leverkusen are the clear favorites to progress with 1.62 odds from Unibet. A draw between the two sides is available at 4.25, while Rangers are listed at 5.3 at the time of writing.
A goal-laden affair at the BayArena is also a possibility, meaning going for over 3.5 goals for the match may have value. After all, both teams are on strong goalscoring runs at the present.
Leverkusen, for example, have seen over 3.5 goals go into the back of the net across 5 of their last 6 home games.
While Rangers have nothing to lose and will surely throw everything at the Leverkusen defense. They’ve also scored 11 goals in their last 5 fixtures, including 10 in 4 pre-season ones.
Furthermore, Gerrard’s side have also seen over 3.5 goals in 3 of their last 5 Europa League games.
Anytime Goalscorer – Kai Havertz
The rumored Chelsea target has been in sublime form for Leverkusen since lockdown ended in Germany, scoring 7 goals in 9 appearances.
Therefore, Easyodds has placed Havertz as the most likely player to get on the scoresheet with odds of 5/4 though BetVictor.
* Odds correct at time of writing.