Rangers vs Braga prediction: Rangers 2-1 Braga
For the first time in nine seasons, Rangers are through to the knockout phase of a European competition.
The Gers are the second-lowest ranked team, based on UEFA Coefficient ranking, left in the Europa League, showing how fantastic an achievement it was for them to get through.
Braga meanwhile may not be one of Europe’s big names but they’ve had an exceptional European campaign and cannot be underestimated.
With the second leg just six days away, will it be a famous night at Ibrox?
Highlights of Rangers 2-0 FC Porto
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Rangers vs Braga: Who will win?
Rangers are evens to win this first leg, something they might have to do if they’re to progress.
Braga meanwhile are 13/5 to leave Glasgow with a win.
A draw, which would favour the away side, is 12/5.
Over 2.5 goals is evens.
Both teams to win is 4/5.
Rangers to win and both teams to score is 3/1.
Alfredo Morelos has been on fire in Europe this season. The Colombian is 7/2 to open the scoring and 7/5 to add to his remarkable tally.
Ianis Hagi will make his European debut for the club. He is 8/1 to score first and 16/5 to net anytime.
Paulinho could lead the line for Braga. He is 5/1 to break the deadlock and 2/1 to score anytime.
Francisco Trincão will also be a threat. He is 17/2 to score first and 7/2 to net anytime.
Both Ryan Kent and Morelos to score is 10/1.
Both Joe Aribo and Ianis Hagi to score is 33/1.
Both Ricardo Horta and Paulinho to score is 12/1.
Both Trincão and Paulinho to score is 14/1.
Rangers vs Braga: Match preview
Rangers roll on in European competition.
They are one of just two sides who were involved in the Europa League first qualifying round in the first week of July who are still in.
In the summer, the Gers overcame St Joseph’s, Progrès Niederkorn, Midtjylland and Legia Warsaw to make the group phase for a second successive season.
They were then drawn alongside FC Porto, Feyenoord and Young Boys; qualification seemed a daunting prospect.
They had a mixed start, a rocket from Sheyi Ojo saw them beat Feyenoord 1-0 on matchday one.
But then, a stoppage time goal after an error by Connor Goldson saw them lost 2-1 at Stade de Suisse to Young Boys.
That set up, what would turn out to be, a decisive double header against Porto.
First, at Estádio do Dragão, an amazing cross by Borna Barišić picked out Alfredo Morelos as they left Portugal with a 1-1 draw.
Then, a fortnight later, two goals in four minutes from Morelos and then Steve Davis saw them beat Porto 2-0 at Ibrox.
Arguably, their best result under Gerrard.
They finished with two draws, 2-2 at De Kuip and 1-1 at home to Young Boys, which saw them end up in second place.
Although, given that if they had won Group G they’d be facing Bayer Leverkusen, they might have dodged a bullet.
Based on their group stage form, Braga should be worried but Rangers have been really poor in 2020.
On Sunday, Scott Arfield scored the only goal as they beat Livingston at home.
However, they’ve taken just 13 points from the last seven Premiership games so are now ten points adrift of Celtic.
However, for one night, all of their domestic woes are forgotten.
In 14 home European games under Gerrard, they’ve never lost, winning ten of those.
They’ll surely have to preserve that record if they’re to have any chance of going through.
Will Braga’s superb European campaign continue?
As for Braga, their European campaign has, arguably, been even more impressive.
They too had to come through qualification, beating Brøndby and Spartak Moscow to reach a tenth UEFA group stage.
When they were drawn in a tough group, not many people predicted they’d come out of it let alone top it.
However, they got off to the perfect start by beating Wolves 1-0 at Molineux; Ricardo Horta with the only goal.
They never looked back from there.
A 2-2 home draw with ŠK Slovan Bratislava was then followed by crucial back to back wins over Beşiktaş.
On matchday five, they came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Wolves at home and that booked both clubs’ passage through.
December’s 4-2 win in Slovakia ensured they finished first in a group for the third time.
Despite this success, they are well off the pace in the Primeira Liga.
On Saturday though, they caused a major upset by beating champions and league-leaders Benfica 1-0.
Paulinho’s goal silencing Estádio da Luz.
Os Arcebispos are now unbeaten in ten including a Taça da Liga Final win over Porto in January.
Nevertheless, they’re down in third, 17 points off the pace.
Back in 2011, Brag reached the Europa League final where they lost 1-0 to Porto in Dublin.
Can they upset the odds again and go far in this year’s edition?
If so, they’ll have to negotiate a tough task here.
Rangers team news vs Braga
After some poor performances, notably at Rugby Park eight days ago, Gerrard may be tempted to make changes to his side.
He only made one for Sunday’s win over Livi so may stick with those that he trusts.
Goalkeeper Allan McGregor will make his 42nd appearance of the season, looking for his 23rd clean sheet.
In defence, James Tavernier’s absence at the start of 2020 was one of the key reasons behind their struggles.
However, the captain is now back and will be pivotal.
On the other side though, Borna Barišić is a major doubt after missing the last two games.
His absence would be a major blow.
Andy Halliday has been covering there in the last two games but the more solid Jon Flanagan could come in here.
At centre-back, it’s always been Connor Goldson and one other; he’s started 98 out of 106 games since joining.
At the moment, Nikola Katić is first choice ahead of George Edmundson; Filip Helander is injured.
In midfield, they are without a key man, Ryan Jack, who picked up his third European yellow card of the season at home to Young Boys.
Another major miss.
So, Glenn Kamara will anchor the midfield with Steve Davis dropping deep and Scott Arfield making up the midfield three.
Joe Aribo would be the likely man to miss out.
Out-wide, £7 million pound summer signing Ryan Kent and January recruit Ianis Hagi are very much the first-choice wide men.
Sheyi Ojo, Jordan Jones and Greg Stewart have hardly got a look since the winter break.
Up front, Jermain Defoe is injured right now but Alfredo Morelos remains the main man.
The Colombian has scored 29 goals this season and is the Europa League’s top scorer with 14 in 14.
Florian Kamberi, who’s joined on loan from Hibs, will be on the bench.
Will this XI be too strong for Braga?
Braga team news vs Rangers
As for Braga, since the conclusion of the group stages, Ricardo Sá Pinto has been sacked after just five months in charge.
35 year old Rúben Amorim is the new Head Coach and their form under him has been almost flawless.
One thing he has changed is the formation from a 4-1-4-1 to a back three.
Matheus will remain in goal despite having kept only seven clean sheets in 26 appearances this season.
At the back, none of David Carmo, Wallace and Raul Silva were regulars under the previous manager but are the first choice back three now.
Vítor Tormena is injured; Bruno Wilson is out of favour.
Nuno Sequeira and Ricardo Esgaio will continue at full-back.
In the centre, captain Fransérgio and João Palhinha are a very talented duo.
Further forward, they have an array of options.
Ricardo Horta, who’s scored 17 goals this season including six in Europe, is a guaranteed starter.
Galeno’s good form should also keep him in the XI.
Francisco Trincão, João Novais and Rui Fonte would all be left out.
As would Abel Ruiz, who’s on loan from Barcelona.
Up front, Paulinho will lead the line with Wilson Eduardo, who scored two in three in the group stages, out injured.
Will the Archbishops leave Ibrox with a win?
Predicted Rangers line-up vs Braga
Predicted Braga line-up vs Rangers
Highlights of Rangers 1-0 Feyenoord
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Highlights of Feyenoord 2-2 Rangers
Highlights of Rangers 1-1 Young Boys
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Highlights of Braga 3-3 Wolverhampton Wanderers
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
Scottish Premiership table:
|7||St Johnstone FC||29||8||12||9||28||46||-18||36|
|9||St Mirren FC||30||7||8||15||24||41||-17||29|
|10||Ross County FC||30||7||8||15||29||60||-31||29|
|11||Hamilton Academical FC||30||6||9||15||30||50||-20||27|
|12||Heart of Midlothian||30||4||11||15||31||52||-21||23|
Primeira Liga table:
|5||Rio Ave FC||24||10||8||6||32||23||9||38|
|9||Gil Vicente FC||24||7||9||8||25||29||-4||30|
|10||CD Santa Clara||24||8||6||10||19||26||-7||30|
|15||CS Maritimo Madeira||24||5||9||10||22||32||-10||24|
|16||FC Pacos Ferreira||24||6||4||14||18||34||-16||22|
|18||CD das Aves||24||4||1||19||23||47||-24||13|