Preview: Rangers vs. RB Leipzig

Preview: Rangers vs. RB Leipzig

Rangers play host to RB Leipzig looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final.

At a time when second-placed Rangers are realistically out of the title race in the Scottish Premiership, Leipzig have recently dropped down to fifth position in the Bundesliga.

Second-best in both the top flight and this European semi-final, there is a real possibility that Rangers’ only piece of silverware this season comes via the Scottish Cup.

Nevertheless, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team will continue to fight for an historic treble, and they will head into their upcoming clash with Leipzig with little fear.

Albeit with a defensively-minded performance, Rangers nullified RB Leipzig for the majority of the first leg in Germany last Thursday before Angelino’s decisive goal in the 85th minute.

A narrow defeat was harsh on the Scottish giants who were missing several key players, but they would have probably taken a one-goal deficit ahead of the return fixture at Ibrox had it been offered to them beforehand.

Van Bronckhorst had the tricky conundrum of finding a balance between naming a side capable of challenging Celtic last weekend and being well-rested for this contest, with the Gers doing themselves credit to earn a 1-1 draw through Fashion Sakala’s second-half equaliser.

While the draw against their Old Firm rivals will realistically prove detrimental in the title race, it was somewhat of a confidence boost ahead of trying to defeat a German giant for the second time in this competition.

On paper, Leipzig are a marginally-easier opponent than Borussia Dortmund were back in February, but that means little now that they travel to Scotland with a lead.

Domenico Tedesco would have had high hopes for being further in front against opponents who were missing their best forward players, although he may feel that Leipzig’s focus will now be stronger with Rangers still in the tie.

There is a lot more riding on this fixture than Tedesco would have envisaged with Leipzig suffering back-to-back defeats in the Bundesliga, losses which have left them outside of the Champions League places.

After losing at home to Union Berlin ahead of the first Rangers game, Leipzig went down 3-1 at Borussia Moncehengladbach on Sunday, even with their opponents playing the final 26 minutes with 10 men.

Although Leipzig have certainly improved under Tedesco during the second half of the season, their next four fixtures will define whether it will be deemed successful with a top-four finish and the DFB-Pokal also on their list of targets.

Rangers Europa League form:
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Rangers form (all competitions):
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RB Leipzig Europa League form:
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RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
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We say: Rangers 1-2 RB Leipzig (RB Leipzig to win 3-1 on aggregate)
Even with the possibility of players returning to the squad for this contest, Rangers require a European performance for the ages to reach the final of this competition. While home advantage gives Rangers every chance of getting on the scoresheet, they will find it difficult to repel Leipzig at the other end, leading us to predict another German win.

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