Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Europa League clash between Rangers and Braga, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
At a time when the home side are six points off top spot in the Scottish Premiership, Braga are close to cementing fourth position in Primeira Liga.
Having been drawn alongside Braga, everyone associated with Rangers would have felt like they had been provided with the ideal draw to progress further in this competition.
However, a 1-0 defeat in Portugal, not helped by the absence of Alfredo Morelos, has left the Scottish giants with plenty of work ahead if they are to earn a spot in the semi-finals.
Despite failing to register a shot on target in that contest, Giovanni van Bronckhorst insists that Rangers can cope without their top goalscorer, and credit should be given for their bounce-back 4-0 victory at St Mirren on Sunday.
Kemar Roofe netted a hat-trick on that occasion, taking his tally to 15 strikes for the campaign, but several of his teammates also need to step up to the plate over the coming games.
The Glasgow giants have lost three of their last five outings, although they will take confidence from putting together a four-match unbeaten run at Ibrox in Europe, their only setback on familiar territory coming at Lyon in September.
In sharp contrast, Braga have gone three games without success on their European travels, but you cannot look negatively at their 1-1 draw at Monaco last time out.
That result has proved to be the catalyst for Braga’s most impressive run this campaign, a five-game unbeaten streak also including wins over Benfica and Rangers.
While Carlos Carvalhal will remain disappointed with a Primeira Liga campaign which sees his team sit 19 points off the pace, three successive league victories have put Os Arcebispos on the brink of another fourth-placed finish.
Whoever prevails from this tie will set up a showdown with either RB Leipzig or Atalanta BC in the semi-finals.
Rangers Europa League form:
Rangers form (all competitions):
Braga Europa League form:
Braga form (all competitions):
Having played 45 minutes against St Mirren at the weekend, Aaron Ramsey will hope for a recall to the Rangers side in this competition.
Providing that there are no further injury issues, Carvalhal could stick with the Braga XI which deservedly emerged victorious last week.
Vitinha was sent off during the first half against Vizela at the weekend, but the forward is free to take his spot on the substitutes’ bench.
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey; Kamara, Jack; Aribo, Ramsey, Kent; Roofe
Braga possible starting lineup:
Matheus; Fabiano, Carmo, Tormena; Couto, Musrati, A.Horta, Gomes; R.Horta, Medeiros; Ruiz
We say: Rangers 1-1 Braga
Rangers showed at the weekend that they can be ruthless when they want to be, and that same mentality needs to be on show on Thursday. Nevertheless, Braga provide much sterner opposition, and we feel that the visitors will do just enough to claim a draw at Ibrox, ensuring their progress through to the semi-finals.