Rangers will look to right the wrongs of 2017 when they once again take on Progres Niederkorn in the Europa League qualifiers. The minnows of Luxembourg knocked the Scottish giants out of this competition at the qualification stages two years ago, with a narrow 1-0 win at Ibrox being followed up by a humiliating 2-0 defeat in the return leg, thus setting the tone for the remainder of Pedro Caixinha’s ill-fated stint in Scotland. Steven Gerrard will now be looking to avoid a repeat experience as Rangers look to make the Europa League group stages for the second consecutive season.
Rangers will be hoping they can be as emphatic in this round of the Europa League qualifiers as they were in the previous, having eliminated St. Joseph’s with a thumping 10-0 aggregate victory. It helped continue what has been a positive start to pre-season for Gerrard’s team so far, who have also enjoyed comprehensive wins over Oxford United and, more impressively, Marseille. On Sunday, the Gers drew 1-1 with Championship side Blackburn Rovers, with Lewis Travis‘ goal being the first that Rangers have conceded since returning from the off-season in their five matches played to date. Given what happened just over two years ago, there is a small chance of redemption for the home side in this one.
Progres Niederkorn return to British and Irish soil for the third successive qualifying round in the Europa League on Thursday night, as they look to pull off yet another major upset against Rangers. In reaching this stage of the competition, Progres first saw off Cardiff Met University, edging past the Cinderella story of the first round on away goals, despite losing 2-1 in the second leg. Next, they face Cork City of Ireland and were again made to work for their place in the following round, progressing 3-2 on aggregate after seeing their initial 2-0 lead from the first leg evaporate by the 47th minute of the following leg. Their form to this point of this year’s competition has been unpredictable to say the least, and they will hope to use that to their advantage in this second meeting in three years with Rangers.
New signing Felip Helander is set to be included in the squad after making his debut against Blackburn on Sunday, though Jake Hastie has been left out by Gerrard. Winger Jamie Murphy, who is still recovering from injury, is also left out. Alfredo Morelos and Jermain Defoe will be competing for a starting role after regularly finding the back of the net in pre-season, while Sheyi Ojo will hope to continue his positive form on the flank.
Progres enter this fixture with a number of players who featured this time two years ago, including Emmanuel Francoise and Sebastien Thill who scored the goals in their 2-0 win the last time these sides squared off. Mayron de Almeida is the dangerman for Progres, with the 23-year-old Belgian forward having already netted three goals in four appearances in the Europa League this season.
We’re not expecting a repeat of what happened two years ago, with this Rangers side now looking in a far better shape than they were under Caixinha. Progres’ games in this competition are yet to feature more than three goals, but with Rangers’ recent prowess in the penalty area that could well change. We like the look of Rangers win and over 3.5 goals at 1.90. On-loan Liverpool winger Sheyi Ojo has looked bright in his early performances for the Scottish side and we like his price to score anytime on Thursday night of 2.40.