MX23RW : Friday, June 18 21:32:03| >> :600:300285:300285:
Mar 18, 2021 at 8pm UK at Ibrox Stadium
RangersRangers
0-2
Slavia PragueSlavia Prague

Balogun (18'), Kamara (39'), Aribo (87'), Goldson (89')
Roofe (62'), Balogun (73')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Olayinka (14'), Stanciu (74')
Dorley (35'), Deli (56'), Kudela (89')

Preview: Rangers vs. Slavia Prague - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Rangers and Slavia Prague, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Scottish Premiership champions Rangers host Slavia Prague in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night, hoping to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time in 13 years.

The clash at Ibrox is perfectly poised for another entertaining encounter between two sides who both remain undefeated in their respective leagues this season.


Match preview

Rangers' Filip Helander celebrates scoring against Slavia Prague in the Europa League on March 11, 2021© Reuters

An important away goal scored by Filip Helander helped Rangers recover to draw 1-1 away in the Czech Republic last week, after Nicolae Stanciu scored an early opener.

Slavia Prague dominated for long spells against Steven Gerrard's side but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Nonetheless, it took a sensational acrobatic save from 39-year-old Allan McGregor in the dying embers of the game to earn the Gers a score draw in the Czech capital.

That result saw Rangers preserve their 12-match unbeaten run against continental opposition and after having last weekend to rest and prepare for what is now the biggest match of their season, Gerrard's men will be full of confidence as they look to book their place in Friday's quarter-final draw for the first time since 2007-08.

Gerrard has stated that there is "no harm in dreaming" of going all the away in the Europa League, but he is not getting carried away and has reiterated how challenging the second leg will be against Slavia, who eliminated Premier League outfit Leicester City in the last round.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard before the match in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Rangers, who have lost just one of their last 23 home matches in European competitions, have progressed from seven of their last eight knockout ties when avoiding defeat in the first leg.

Should the Gers progress from the last 16, Gerrard will become the third English manager to reach the quarter-finals and beyond in the Europa League, after Roy Hodgson in 2009-10 with Fulham and Alan Pardew in 2012-13 with Newcastle United.

The last English manager to reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League or the UEFA Cup with a non-English side was also Hodgson with Inter Milan, who finished as runners-up back in 1996-97.

Rangers have won each of their previous three home matches against Czech opposition, most recently against Viktoria Zizkov in the UEFA Cup in October 2002. However, having lost in the round of 16 last season against Bayer Leverkusen, the Gers will be hoping to avoid successive eliminations at this stage and claim their 21st victory at Ibrox this campaign, to keep their chances of a historic league and European cup double alive.

Slavia Prague's Abdallah Sima celebrates scoring against Leicester City in the Europa League on February 25, 2021© Reuters

Slavia Prague prepared for this Thursday's second leg with a convincing 3-0 win over Mlada Boleslav in the Czech top flight last weekend.

A brace from Stanciu helped the Cervenobili move 14 points clear at the top of the league and, like Rangers, they remain unbeaten in their march towards the title, mirroring the Glaswegian side as they have raced away from their city rivals Sparta.

Jindrich Trpisovsky's team proved once again that they are not to be underestimated after a battling performance against the Gers in the first leg and despite conceding an away goal, they will be confident of pulling off another impressive result against one of Europe's most in-form sides.

However, the challenge of defeating such a rampant Rangers outfit at Ibrox will be difficult as the Gers have won 95.4% of their home matches so far this season, conceding just nine goals in the process.

Slavia Prague have never played in Glasgow before but have lost both of their previous two away matches in European competitions against Scottish opponents, losing in the UEFA Cup to St Mirren in 1985-86 and Hearts in 1992-93.

Slavia pulled off a historic 6-5 aggregate win against Europa League specialists Sevilla during the 2018-19 campaign at this stage of the competition, and know that they need to score at Ibrox if they are to have any chance of progressing once again to the last eight.

Rangers Europa League form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Rangers form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Slavia Prague Europa League form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • D

Slavia Prague form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W


Team News

Rangers' James Tavernier receives medical attention after sustaining an injury in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Steven Gerrard confirmed that midfielder Ryan Jack, who was unavailable for the clash in Prague last week, is an injury doubt for the second leg. If the 29-year-old is fit enough to make the matchday squad, then he is likely to start on the bench.

Gers forward Kemar Roofe was available for selection last week, after previously suffering from a calf problem and after starting on the bench against Slavia, he could be handed a start up front ahead of Ianis Hagi.

Club captain James Tavernier remains out injured but defender Leon Balogun is back from suspension and is in contention to feature, although the Nigerian is expected to start on the bench with Nathan Patterson to continue at right-back and Connor Goldson partnering Filip Helander in the heart of defence.

Slavia Prague boss Jindrich Trpisovsky will be hoping to have winger Peter Olayinka available for the second leg on Thursday and should he recover in time, then the visitors may name an unchanged starting lineup from the first leg.

Attacking midfielder Nicolae Stanciu, who is set to start once again on Thursday, will be one player Rangers need to keep an eye on. The Romanian is currently in fine form, scoring six goals in his last four games in all competitions, including a brilliant strike in the first leg.

Striker Jan Kuchta – who has scored 13 goals in 25 appearances in all competitions – was rested last weekend and is expected to return to the starting XI at the expense of forward Stanislav Tecl, who recently scored four goals in a 10-3 Czech Cup victory earlier this month.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Patterson, Goldson, Helander, Barisic; Kamara, Davies, Aribo; Roofe, Morelos, Kent

Slavia Prague possible starting lineup:
Kolar; Bah, Kudela, Zima, Boril; Holes, Provod; Sima, Stanciu, Olayinka; Kuchta


SM words green background

We say: Rangers 2-1 Slavia Prague


Slavia Prague have proved in recent seasons that they can compete against stronger opposition and are set to make it another difficult evening for Rangers this Thursday.

However, after having the weekend off, the Gers will be well rested and fully prepared for this clash at Ibrox, where they have been formidable throughout this campaign.

A tight encounter is to be expected, one that could even go to extra time, but Gerrard's men should have enough quality to edge themselves into the quarter-finals.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:curl


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How you voted: Rangers vs Slavia Prague

Rangers
79.4%
Draw
10.1%
Slavia Prague
10.4%
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Rangers manager Steven Gerrard before the match in the Europa League on February 18, 2021
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Steven Gerrard not afraid to dream of Europa League glory
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