Rangers v Unirea Urziceni, Champions League, October 20, 2009
Rangers look up against it in their bid to qualify for the knockout phase of the Champions League after picking up just a solitary point from their first two matches. As a result the Scottish champions find themselves bottom of Group G with their matchday three opponents Unirea Urziceni above them because of a superior goal difference.
Both the teams picked up their point against Stuttgart with Rangers achieving the more impressive result of the two as they came away from Germany with a draw where as the Romanian champions drew at home.
Rangers may not have their best side of recent years to enable them to compete with the elite of European football, but they still should have enough to claim only their first win in seven Champions League fixtures.
An away win is a long shot, the Romanians in two matches in the UEFA Cup and two in the Champions League are yet to win a match and this record is unlikely to alter at Ibrox. Indeed, Romanian sides as a whole have only claimed eight wins in 52 Champions League matches – a win ratio of 15% so their pedigree in Europe’s elite competition is certainly lacking. While more specifically, Dan Petrescu’s side have only won once in four domestic matches so come into the match in underwhelming form.
But it’s hardly all good news for Rangers either. The Scots have the worst defence in the Champions League so far having conceded five goals in their two matches. However, Unirea should not pose too many problems for a backline that will be reinforced with the return of the impressive Majid Bougherra (8/1 to score first) after the Algerian missed the weekend win over St. Johnstone following his delayed arrival back from international duty. He and his centre-back partner David Weir will be hoping to keep a clean sheet for just the third time this season (11/10 on Rangers keeping a clean sheet).
Kenny Miller (11/2 to score first) has had his recent injury troubles but the striker took both of his goals well in the recent Old Firm win against Celtic and he is a good looking bet at 6/4 to add to his tally of four goals this season. Elsewhere, Pedro Mendes (6/1 to score) has been passed fit and should make the starting line-up while Kyle Lafferty (12/1 to score a brace), also only just back from injury, is like a new signing for Smith adding extra options up-front.
Walter Smith is a wily old character and he should have his troops fired up for this match which defender Sasa Papac has dubbed must win and with the passionate home support fully behind Rangers than a home win should be expected.
101gg predicts: Rangers 3 – Unirea Urziceni 0 (12/1)
Full match odds here.