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

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

Rangers travel to Slavia Prague in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night, hoping to build on a jubilant weekend which saw the Gers crowned Scottish Premiership champions for the first time since 2011.

Slavia Prague, meanwhile, are not to be underestimated having already beaten the likes of Leicester City and Bayer Leverkusen in this season's competition.


Match preview

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

The 10-year wait is finally over as Rangers were crowned Scottish Premiership champions last weekend after Celtic were held to a goalless draw at Dundee United.

Steven Gerrard's side cruised past St Mirren to win 3-0 at Ibrox on Saturday and with the Hoops failing to claim all three points at Tannadice, they cannot now catch their bitter rivals, who have clinched their 55th top-flight title.

Gerrard, who is celebrating his first managerial trophy, is already looking ahead and is hoping for more success this campaign as they head into the last 16 of the Europa League.

The former Liverpool skipper has expressed his desire to win more trophies with Rangers and wants his side "to keep delivering until the end of the season", reiterating that their 'journey is not yet finished' this term.

Rangers have had a brilliant Europa League campaign so far, topping Group D ahead of Portuguese giants Benfica before winning a thrilling two-legged last-32 tie 9-5 against Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.

The Gers, who have lost only one of their last 44 matches in all competitions, will be full of confidence heading into Thursday's fixture and will be keen to avoid a repeat of last season's last-16 tie, which saw them eliminated at this stage by German side Bayer Leverkusen.

Rangers are hoping to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007-08 when they went on to reach the final, losing to Zenit St Petersburg.

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

Slavia Prague have made up for their Champions League playoff exit earlier this season by convincingly coming through Group C in the Europa League, topped by Bayer Leverkusen, before surprisingly knocking out Leicester City in the round of 32, with a 2-0 win on aggregate.

Goals from Lukas Provod and Abdallah Sima helped the Czech Republic outfit claim their first ever win in England and they progress to the last-16 for the second time in three years.

Following their victory at the King Power Stadium, Jindrich Trpisovsky's side have won each of their last three matches, including an emphatic 10-3 Czech Cup win against third-tier side FC Slavia Karlovy Vary.

Slavia's impressive Europa League campaign has coincided with another standout league season this year, which currently sees them 14 points clear of their nearest rivals Sparta Prague and on course to clinch their fourth top-flight title in five years.

The Cervenobili – who, like Rangers, are also undefeated in their domestic league – have put together a 16-game unbeaten run since their 4-0 defeat away at Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League group stages back in December.

Slavia Prague have also yet to lose at home in the Europa League this season and have only lost one of their last 10 matches in the competition at the Sinobo Stadium.

Securing another positive result on Thursday night would benefit their chances of reaching the last eight, as they did during the 2018-19 campaign when they pulled off a historic 6-5 aggregate win against competition specialists Sevilla.

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

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

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

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


Team News

Rangers' Alfredo Morelos celebrates scoring against Benfica in the Europa League on November 5, 2020© Reuters

Slavia Prague boss Jindrich Trpisovsky may decide to name the same starting lineup that beat Leicester last month.

Forward Stanislav Tecl, who scored four goals in their Czech Cup victory earlier this month, has recovered from the injury that kept him out of their last Europa League game and is now in contention to feature.

For Rangers, defender Leon Balogun is suspended after accumulating three yellow cards in this season's competition.

With club captain James Tavernier still a doubt, 19-year-old Nathan Patterson is likely to start for the third successive game at right-back.

Striker Alfredo Morelos is set to make his 50th appearance in a UEFA competition and could line up in attack alongside Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi.

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

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


SM words green background

We say: Slavia Prague 1-1 Rangers


Despite conceding only nine goals in 32 Scottish Premiership matches, Rangers have conceded 12 times from just eight Europa League games this campaign and will face a Slavia Prague outfit who have found the back of the net 18 times in their last five fixtures.

The Czech Republic side have proved that they can compete against stronger opposition this season and could make if a difficult evening for the Gers on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard's side may have to settle for a score draw, which could be viewed as a positive result if they were to take an away goal into the second leg at Ibrox.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win 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.Home/Away:data


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