Rangers will put their domestic struggles aside when they host Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League round-of-16 first leg on Thursday.
Steven Gerrard’s men beat Ross County 1-0 at the weekend but had endured a run of three domestic games without a win prior to that.
Bayer Leverkusen will be a stern test of Rangers’ mettle, with the German side enjoying nine-game unbeaten run across all competitions, remaining on the fringes of the Bundesliga title race.
Who will take control in this Europa League tie in the first meeting between these two since 1998? Read on for our preview, predictions, team news and live stream information.
When is Rangers v Bayer Leverkusen and where can I watch live?
Competition: Uefa Europa League
Venue: Ibrox Stadium
Date: Thursday, 12 March 2020
Kick-off: 8:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): BT Sport 3 HD
Online & live stream options: UK audiences with a BT Sport subscription can watch online or live stream through their app.
Previous meetings: Rangers v Bayer Leverkusen
05 November 1998: Rangers 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Uefa Cup)
22 October 1998: Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Rangers (Uefa Cup)
Aggregate Score: Rangers (DW) 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen (DL)
Ones to watch
Rangers: Alfredo Morelos
Time and again this season, Alfredo Morelos has been the man to step up for Rangers. The Colombian has been lethal both domestically and on the continent, scoring 29 goals across all competitions so far in 2019/20.
If he keeps his temperament in check, Morelos is the one player who could spark a Europa League upset in favour of the Glaswegian giants.
Key stat: No player has scored more goals than Alfredo Morelos (six) in this season’s Europa League.
Bayer Leverkusen: Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz never quite got going in the Champions League this season but in the Europa League, he’s really stepped up.
The talented 20-year-old was the deciding factor as Leverkusen cruised past Porto — winning 5-2 on aggregate — creating no fewer than six chances across the two legs and helping himself to two goals.
If Havertz brings his A-game, there may be little Rangers can do to stop Leverkusen.
Key stat: Havertz was directly involved in four of Leverkusen’s five goals against Porto in the previous round, scoring two and assisting two.
James Tavernier and Ryan Jack are both struggling with knee problems but given their importance to Rangers, Gerrard is likely to give them until the final moment to prove their fitness.
Alfredo Morelos returns from his one-match European suspension, but this game may come too soon for Jermain Defoe, who is still working back to fitness.
Filip Helander is out.
Predicted XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Edmundson, Barisic; Jack, Davis, Arfield; Hagi, Morelos, Kent.
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Sven Bender is out for up to six weeks with a knee injury, while Kevin Volland also remains sidelined. Nadiem Amiri was only fit enough for a place on the bench at the weekend.
Predicted XI: Hradecky; L. Bender, Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Aranguiz, Demirbay; Havertz, Paulinho, Diaby; Alario.
A late 1-0 win over Ross County has done little to lighten the mood in the Rangers camp and make no mistake, Gerrard’s men are very much out of form.
They did brilliantly to get past Braga in the Europa League round-of-32 but Leverkusen are a completely different animal. Expect the German side to take full control of this tie here.