Rangers will welcome RB Leipzig in the second leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on 6th May. The first leg between the two sides ended 1-0 in favour of RB Leipzig in Germany and the hosts will be striving to overturn that deficit.
Things are not looking good for Rangers right now, who are struggling in both the Scottish Premiership as well as the Europa League. They are second placed in the domestic league and are realistically out of the race for the Scottish Premiership. Rangers were also second best to RB Leipzig in the first leg of the Europa League semi final at the Red Bull Arena in Germany. Therefore, their only realistic possibility of silverware this season comes in the Scottish Cup.
With that being said, however, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are continuing their fight for a historic treble, although the odds are seemingly against them right now. They have very little to lose as they head into the upcoming second leg fixture against RB Leipzig at home.
Despite losing, Rangers can take plenty of positives from the first leg display against RB Leipzig. Although they were primarily defensive-minded, they did extremely well to keep the hosts at bay for much of the game. It was only when Angelina broke the deadlock five minutes before the end of the stipulated time that the momentum swung in favour of Leipzig.
In retrospect, a narrow one-goal defeat might be harsh on the resilient Scottish side, who had also missed several key players due to injury. However, there is also the possibility that if they were asked the question of whether they would be contented in taking a one-goal lead back into their whole stadium before the first leg, the answer would have been a yes from Rangers.
Manager Van Bronckhorst has been struggling to find the right balance for his side for a while now. The challenge became even more arduous when they had to face a well-rested Celtic side last weekend. While they did well enough to secure a 1-1 stalemate thanks to Fashion Sakala’s second half equaliser, the draw against their Old Firm rivals might actually be detrimental in their aspirations for the title race. Rangers are six points behind Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership and time seems to be running out for them.
However, the draw is a massive result which is likely to be a morale-booster for the side ahead of their attempt of defeating a German side for the second time in the Europa League this season. While on paper, RB Leipzig appear to be an easier opponent compared to Borussia Dortmund back in February, it matters little now as they need to bounce back from the first leg defeat.
Domenico Tedesco, meanwhile, would have had higher hopes of getting more shots on target and definitely more goals in the match especially given that Rangers were missing several key players in the first leg. However, the slender one-goal lead might keep RB Leipzig’s players on their toes, knowing that they will have to get the job done in the second leg anyway.
There will be a lot more riding on RB Leipzig’s Europa League ambitions, after suffering consecutive defeats in the Bundesliga which has seen their campaign get derailed. Those losses have left them out of the Champions League qualifying places, and RB Leipzig will be banking on winning the Europa League as a route to make it back to Europe’s premier competition.
RB Leipzig lost at home to Union Berlin before welcoming Rangers at the Red Bull Arena. They also suffered another 3-1 loss at the hands of Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday even though their opponents played the final 26 minutes of the match with 10 men.
The Red Bull Group owned side are now fifth in the Bundesliga table. They trail Freiburg in fourth place by a single point, but with just two matches remaining this season, it could prove to be too big a challenge, especially given their form lately.
Leipzig also had to dig deep to overcome Rangers in the first leg of the semi-final, with full-back Angelino breaking the deadlock at the 85th-minute mark. Although RB Leipzig have definitely improved under new coach Domenico Tedesco this season, the next four matches will determine whether their season is a successful one or not. It goes without saying that winning the DFB Pokal against SC Freiburg, the Europa League, and/or managing a Champions League spot will be well on top of their list of targets.
RAN vs RBL, UEFA Europa League 2021/22
Date: 6th May, 2022
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Rangers Europa League form:
Rangers form (all competitions):
RB Leipzig Europa League form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
Rangers wins: 0
RB Leipzig wins: 1
RAN vs RBL TEAM NEWS:
Rangers Team News: Kemar Roofe, who has missed the last three fixtures for Rangers, is now strongly pushing for a return to the squad. It remains to be seen whether he’s able to make it back in time for the deciding leg of the Europa League semi-final.
There’s also the question that whether Van Bronckhorst is ready to take a gamble on the forward. At the moment, the chances of Joe Aribo or Fashion Saka, who had found the back of the net last weekend against Celtic, are stronger.
Aaron Ramsey, who has been dealing with a hamstring problem for a while, is also in contention to start this fixture. On the other hand, Ryan Jack and Glen Kamara are also expected to take to the field from the beginning after only featuring as substitutes against Celtic recently.
Although Scott Wright got on the scoresheet against Motherwell, it is unlikely that he will start the game. He is expected to drop down and come off the bench instead in the second half.
RB Leipzig Team News: RB Leipzig will be without the services of Amadou Haidara at the Ibrox Stadium after the midfielder suffered a long-term knee injury. However, on the brighter side of things, Willi Orban, Mohamed Simakan and Kevin Kampl will all return to the squad after having served one-match bans in the first leg.
Leipzig might be forced to make a major change at the back as reliable centre-half Josko Gvardiol was forced off in the first half against Borussia Monchengladbach after suffering an injury. As a result, Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann should be in contention to return to the backline.
Dominik Szoboszlai is likely to partner in-form striker Christopher Nkunku, which might relegate Yussuf Poulsen and Andre Silva to the bench. Emil Forsberg could also make an appearance in the second-half for the German side.
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic; Lundstram, Jack, Kamara; Aribo, Sakala, Kent
RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Klostermann, Orban, Halstenberg; Henrichs, Laimer, Adams, Angelino; Olmo; Szoboszlai, Nkunku
Even though they will have important place returning for this fixture, Rangers will have to defy the odds. Most likely, they will have to put up a spectacular European performance for the ages in order to have any hopes of a comeback against RB Leipzig.
Playing at home, in front of their own supporters, is likely to be added motivation for Rangers, who are not expected to find difficulties getting on the scoresheet. However, it is at the opposite end of the park where they are likely to struggle against RB Leipzig’s in-form and prolific forwards.