Scottish Premiership champions Rangers will host Ligue 1 giants Lyon in their opening Group A clash of the Europa League on Thursday night.
The two sides last faced each other in the 2007-08 Champions League group stages, and on both occasions the away side won 3-0.
After an historic invincible title triumph last season, Rangers were hoping to follow that up with qualification for the Champions League. However, a disappointing 4-2 loss on aggregate to Malmo last month ended their dreams of competing in Europe’s elite competition for the first time in a decade.
Since then, the Gers secured a narrow 1-0 aggregate win against Armenian outfit Alashkert in the Europa League playoffs, earning them a place in this season’s group stage for the fourth successive year.
Steven Gerrard’s men extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to six matches with a 2-1 away victory against St Johnstone in the Scottish Premiership last weekend. A stunning 79th-minute strike from captain James Tavernier helped Rangers come from behind to claim all three points and climb to the top of the table.
The Gers, who have failed to win each of their last eight matches against French opposition, now turn their attention to their opening Europa League clash against Lyon, with Gerrard hoping his side can get off to a strong start against one of the tournament favourites.
Rangers are currently unbeaten in their last 10 Europa League group-stage matches, and they have also lost only four of their last 27 European games, so they should be confident heading into Thursday’s encounter.
After a poor start to the new Ligue 1 campaign, claiming just one point from a possible nine available, Lyon have since won their last two league games, beating Nantes and Strasbourg.
Strikes from Moussa Dembele, Jason Denayer and Lucas Paqueta helped Peter Bosz’s men secure a 3-1 win against Strasbourg last weekend and their first on home soil this campaign.
Away from home, Lyon have had a contrasting start to the new season, suffering a 3-0 defeat to Angers before claiming a narrow 1-0 win against Nantes, with both games seeing the visitors reduced to 10 men.
Bosz’s side will need to find their consistency when they participate in the Europa League if they wish to go all the way and win their first piece of silverware since 2011-12, when they lifted the Coupe de France.
Lyon travel to Ibrox after losing only one of their 18 Europa League group-stage matches and they have also suffered just one defeat in their previous nine group-stage away games in the competition, winning and drawing four games each.
Rangers Europa League form:
Rangers form (all competitions):
Lyon form (all competitions):
We say: Rangers 1-2 Lyon
Both sides have seemingly turned a corner after a slight blip in the early stages of the new campaign, and will now be keen to build on their improved form by securing all three points in their opening Group A clash.
Even though Rangers will have close to 50,000 roaring supporters behind them at Ibrox, we feel that the attacking threat Lyon possess will cause the hosts problems on Thursday.