Red Star v Rangers
Live on BT Sport
Rangers head to the 53,000 capacity Raijko Mitic Stadium on Thursday evening. The Scottish champions will play Red Star Belgrade in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 match. A place in the quarter-finals is at stake, and the Gers hold the advantage following a stunning 3-0 win over the same opponent at Ibrox last week.
Everything went Rangers’ way that evening in front of a packed Ibrox, and most pundits believe the three-goal cushion should be enough to see them through. In the previous round, Giovanni van Bronkhorst’s men successfully protected a two-goal cushion from the first leg against the mighty Borussia Dortmund. But Gers fans can’t afford to get carried away as the hosts remain dangerous, believing they can turn this one around.
The Star hasn’t burned out yet
Red Star failed to win in Glasgow or get on the scoresheet, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The Serbian champions had three goals ruled out, and a penalty saved. They spent large periods of the game without the ball but always looked a threat when going forward. Their downfall in Glasgow was defending set-pieces, conceding one goal from the penalty spot and two from corners.
That’s something manager Dejan Stankovic will ask his players to improve on in Thursday’s return, as the defence is every bit as important as the attack here. Red Star need to beat their opponents by three goals to force this into extra-time, four or more to win it. That’s an uphill task already, but things become even more difficult if Rangers find the net and upset the crowd. This requires a season-best performance from the boys in red and white
Gers were sensational at Ibrox
The first leg couldn’t have gone any better for Rangers. A packed stadium cheered GvB’s men to a remarkable 3-0 win on a night they could do no wrong. The goals were scored by captain James Tavernier, star striker Alfredo Morelos and returning centre back Leon Balogun. They were awarded a penalty, which Tavernier emphatically smashed into the top corner of the net. Goalkeeper Alan McGregor made a sensational stop from a Red Star penalty on 24 minutes with the score at 2-0 while the visitors had three goals ruled out by the linesman.
Manager van Bronkhorst admitted in his post-match interview that the scoreline perhaps flattered his side a little but took great pride in the three goals scored and the clean sheet. Rangers are back in action following Sunday’s simple win at Dundee in the Scottish Cup. They are in a fantastic position to progress to the quarter-finals of the Europa League, knowing their opponents must go on the front foot.
Dangerous on the break
Rangers were showered with praise for last week’s win, and rightly so. They beat a team that won their Europa League group handily and hadn’t lost a competitive match in any competition since November of last year when going down 1-0 at home to Midtjylland. Red Star haven’t been beaten so emphatically since Bayern Munich hammered them 6-0 in the Champions League at home in November 2019.
The home team will believe they can score first and pile the pressure on their visitors but know they have to attack. That’s when they’ll be fragile. The Rangers attack is full of running, and we’re tipping an eye-catching away win at 3.39/4. That makes more sense than backing Red Star at 2.226/5. The draw trades at 3.711/4 on the Betfair Exchange.
Another entertaining night
The first leg produced three goals, two penalties and three goals ruled out for offside. That suggest we should be in for another entertaining night. Back over 2.5 goals in this game at 1.845/6 which should come in handy in your midweek multiples. Those expecting Rangers to shut up shop and protect their aggregate lead can back under 2.5 goals at 2.111/10.
Both teams to score looks a smart play here. Red Star will attack from the first whistle as they know scoring first is a necessity in this match. Not only do they have to score first, but it would also give them a major boost if they got that goal early. While under pressure, Rangers will look to wingbacks Tavernier and Calvin Bassey to race forward and supply Morelos with ammunition. Both teams to score can be backed at 1.758/11.