- Venue: Ibrox, Glasgow
- Saturday: March 12th, 20:00
Ahead of this Europa League Round of 16 tie, Rangers will be hoping for a repeat of their heroics from the previous round when they were 2-0 adrift against Sporting Braga at Ibrox before winning 3-2 and then claiming a 1-0 victory in Portugal. A boisterous home crowd helped the Glasgow team earn that first-leg victory, but their form has not been great since those results, and securing a positive result against a useful Bayer Leverkusen team will not be easy. Having been eliminated from the Champions League earlier this season, the German team won both legs of their previous tie against Porto and will arrive in Scotland as an in-form outfit.
For Rangers, a 1-0 weekend away win at Ross County in Scottish Premiership action ended a two-game losing sequence for the Glasgow club. Two successive 1-0 losses virtually ended their hopes of claiming the league title and a home defeat by struggling Hamilton was particularly damaging. Yet manager Steven Gerrard will be aware that his team have failed to win just three other competitive matches at Ibrox this season and only Young Boys among their Europa League opponents have avoided defeat at the venue when scoring a very late equaliser.
Visitors Bayer Leverkusen will arrive in Glasgow having lost just one competitive match this year, and they have netted in each of their games. However, two defeats on the road without scoring a goal at Juventus and Atletico Madrid during their Champions League campaign proves that the German team are not unbeatable on their travels. It is also worth noting that despite their current unbeaten sequence of nine matches in all competitions, Bayer have conceded at least once in their last five away fixtures but with three of those game ending in victories.
There have been no previous competitive fixtures between Rangers and Bayer Leverkusen.
Jermaine Defoe (calf) will miss this game for Rangers while Scott Arfield (hamstring) and Filip Helander are also struggling for fitness. Ryan Jack (knee) and James Tavernier (leg problem) may also be unavailable, but there will be late decisions on the pair.
For Bayer Leverkusen, losing Kevin Volland (ankle) for potentially the remainder of the season is a blow while Lars Bender is doubtful with a hip/thigh injury.
Despite scoring just once in their last three matches, Rangers missed several goal-scoring opportunities during those contests in which they lost 1-0. The Glasgow team had also failed to score in just one other competitive fixture since mid-December. Bayer Leverkusen have also been regular scorers in recent months, and apart from a three-game goalless sequence during December, the German outfit found the net in each game from late-October onwards. Opposition teams have also breached their defence in all but two fixtures from the beginning of February onwards. Therefore, a good bet may be for Both Teams to Score priced at 7/10 with Bet365.
A second pick is for Over 2.5 goals to be scored offered at 10/11 by Bet365. Despite the absence of international striker Volland from their last five matches, Bayer Leverkusen have still scored thirteen goals in those games with at least three netted in three of those encounters including an impressive weekend 4-0 home win against fellow Europa League hopefuls Eintracht Frankfurt. However, Bayer can be vulnerable in defence and having scored at least once in each of the European games at Ibrox this term, the hosts will be hopeful of netting on this occasion. A few goals are expected.
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