Football Predictions

Rangers vs Braga predictions, live stream options, team news & possible XIs

By Ben Green

Published: 16:07, 19 February 2020

Rangers will look to continue their good work away from domestic duties when they host Braga in the Europa League round-of-32 first leg on Thursday.

Steven Gerrard’s men are fighting tooth and nail in the Scottish Premiership to thwart Celtic’s eight-year stranglehold, currently sitting second in the league, but those aspirations will be put on hold when Braga travel to Glasgow later this week.

The Portuguese club were dealt a tricky hand in the group stages but recorded wins over Wolves at Molineux and a double over Besiktas to top Group K. Ricardo Sa Pinto was at the helm during the autumn months but he has since been replaced by Ruben Amorim. 

Can the Gers make it to the round-of-16 for the first time in nearly a decade? Or will the Archbishops continue their impressive work in this continental competition? Read on for Rangers vs Braga preview, team news and predictions.

When is Rangers vs Braga and where can I watch live?

Competition: Europa League

Venue: Ibrox

Date: Thursday, 20 February 2020

Kick-off: 8:00 PM (UK time)

TV coverage (UK): BT Sport 3 and BT Sport Ultimate

Live stream: BT Sport customers in the UK can stream Olympiakos vs Arsenal live via the BT Sport app.

Ones to watch

Rangers: Alfredo Morelos

Odsonne Edouard may be leading the goalscoring charts in Scotland with 20 league goals, but Morelos is excelling away from the domestic spotlight, so far finding the back of the net more times than any other player in the Europa League this season, owing to his six-goal haul in the group phases.

He is just edging Man Utd newcomer Bruno Fernandes (five), as well as Sevilla’s Munir (five) and even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s leading scorer in this competition, Mason Greenwood, who has four to his name. If Rangers are to progress further in this knockout tournament, then Morelos will need to continue his purple patch.

Key stat: Alfredo Morelos is the only Rangers player with more than one goal in Europe this season.

Braga: Paulinho

From one prolific goalscorer to another, this tie could be determined by which marksman is on his game. Morelos may be topping the charts in the Europa League, but Paulinho is certainly no laggard, netting four in the group stages – scoring against each opponent he faced – while also racking up nine in the Primeira Liga.

The 27-year-old has outshone a youngster set for Barcelona in the summer, Francisco Trincao, as well as former Arsenal graduate Rui Fonte this term. Braga’s hopes of navigating past this double-header largely rest on Paulinho’s shoulders.

Key stat: Paulinho is Braga’s top goalscorer in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season with nine goals.

Team news

Rangers

Gerrard will be sweating over the fitness of left-back Borna Barisic, who has missed the host’s previous two meetings, meaning Andy Halliday could step into the equation if needs be, while versatile full-back Jon Flanagan is no longer in the Europa League squad so cannot be relied upon.

Jermain Defoe is nearing a return but Thursday will still come too soon. Finally, Ryan Jack is serving out a suspension after picking up a red in the final group game against Young Boys.

Predicted XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Halliday; Davis, Arfield, Kamara; Aribo, Kent, Morelos.

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Braga 

Braga will have to make do without Eduardo and Vitor Tormena, meaning Amorim could name an unchanged XI to Saturday’s win over Benfica.

Predicted XI: Matheus; Wallace, Carmo, Silva; Esgaio, Palhinha, Fransergio, Sequeira; Horta, Galeno, Paulinho.

Squawka prediction

There are few grounds more intimidating than the Ibrox caldron on a European night, and that will certainly play into the hands of Gerrard, whose side will look to feed off the cacophony of noise reverberating around the Glasgow terraces.

Rangers were unbeaten at home in the group stages, keeping Young Boys, Porto and Feyenoord at bay. And with Braga being a difficult territory to compete at, as Wolves will attest to, the Gers will look to take an advantage with them for the sequel in Portugal.

Scoreline prediction: Rangers 2-1 Braga

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