Tip Rangers - Bayer Leverkusen
Prediction published on March 9, 2020 at 4:25 PM - Modified on March 9, 2020 at 5:25 PM
Glasgow will play host to a big European tie this Thursday night when Rangers welcome Bayer Leverkusen to Ibrox for their round of 16 first leg in the Europa League. One of the underdog stories of this European campaign, Rangers have reached the round of 16 thanks to a gargantuan effort in what has been a marathon season. This match will be their 17th of the Europa League campaign. In the last round, they mustered an accumulator-busting comeback when they charged from two goals down to beat Braga at Ibrox. That was before completing the triumph with a 1-0 win in Portugal. Leverkusen also beat Portuguese opposition in the round of 32, sweeping aside Porto with a 5-2 aggregate win that saw them clinch victory at home and away. That was their first Europa League experience this season after being parachuted into the competition thanks to a third-place finish in their Champions League group.
One of the form teams in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen are unbeaten in five matches, winning four. Their most recent victory was a convincing 4-0 battering of another Europa League competitor, Eintracht Frankfurt, that featured goals from Havertz, Bellarabi and a double from Paulinho. Havertz has been the star of Leverkusen's season and it's not hard to see why the 20-year-old is wanted by Liverpool, among others. With four goals and five assists in his last seven matches, we expect him to wreak havoc at Ibrox. Having said that, Ibrox has been a fortress for Rangers in Europe this season, there they are unbeaten and have won seven of eight. Yet, despite their European adventure, the mood has soured around the club in recent months. This is due to the club's poor domestic form. Four wins from nine matches have Rangers well off the pace in the title race and fans have called for Steven Gerrard's head. We expect Leverkusen to pile on further pressure with a win here.
Key points Rangers - Bayer Leverkusen
Rangers have failed to win five of their last nine SPL matches.
Bayer Leverkusen have won four of their last five Bundesliga matches.
Rangers are unbeaten at Ibrox in Europe this season (eight games).
Conclusion Rangers - Bayer Leverkusen
Nobody expected Rangers to get this far. Reaching the round of 16 is an achievement in itself. We would say that this is building on Steven Gerrard's project but the manager seems at odds with his players and that situation is untenable. Whatever happens with the future of Gerrard, we don't see a Europa League win over Leverkusen in the pipeline. Back the visitors to win.