Rangers face an uphill task to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against Bayer Leverkusen as they resume their Europa League campaign at the BayArena.
Bayer simply need to avoid defeat of three or more goals to progress, which means that Rangers face a difficult challenge to qualify for the Quarter-Finals because even a 2-0 win would see them exit on away goals.
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Nadiem Amiri is ruled out for Bayer Leverkusen after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for Coronavirus, forcing the midfielder to self isolate for a week.
Kerem Demirbay and Mitchell Weiser are both suspended whilst Paulinho (knee) also miss out, whereas Tin Jedvaj, Joel Pohanjanpalo and Panagiotis are ineligible after failing to feature in the first leg.
Rangers will be without summer signings; Jon McLaughlin, Calvin Bassey, Leon Balogun, Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe due to UEFA rules around squads for the resumption of this season’s Europa League.
Ianis Hagi and Jermain Defoe however are permitted to feature after appearing for the Gers in this competition whilst on loan last season from Genk and Bournemouth respectively, prior to making their moves permanent.
- Bayer Leverkusen have failed to keep four clean sheets in four home competitive UEFA matches this season.
- Rangers have lost just one of eight Europa League away trips this season since entering in the first qualifying round (W3, D4, L1).
- Alfredo Morelos has scored four goals in his last three away Europa League appearances for Rangers.
That 3-1 first leg loss at home in March highlighted just how much work Rangers still have to do if are to challenge for European trophies again, yet this is a huge opportunity for them to kick-start their new season on the front foot with consecutive wins.
Bayer Leverkusen meanwhile haven’t been consistent nor defensively strong at home post lockdown which should give Gers some hope if they can quickly get on the front foot and find that first goal early on.
I however am expecting the hosts to turn up and produce a stronger performance now that they have no other fixtures to worry about outside of this competition, which could well be crucial after finishing outside the Champions League qualification spots in Bundesliga.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Rangers
Result: Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Rangers (Bayer Leverkusen win 4-1 on aggregate)