RB Leipzig will be up against Rangers in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League semi-finals at the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig on 29th April. RB Leipzig defeated Atalanta with a 1-3 aggregated in the quarter-finals while Rangers got the better of Braga on a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
RB Leipzig have enjoyed a resurgence in European football over the last few years. They have been regular customers in Europe’s premier competition the UEFA Champions League but find themselves in the Europa League after finishing third in Group A which also included the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain. RB Leipzig have also reached their second major European semi-final within the first 5 seasons in European competition, having also reached the semis of the UEFA Champions League in 2019-20.
The appointment of Domenico Tedesco as head coach in December has revolutionised the fortunes of Leipzig. Although they lost their most recent Bundesliga match against Union Berlin by 2-1, it was nothing but a blip on the radar as their 15-match undefeated streak across all competitions came to an end. They have been fantastic under Tedesco, winning 16 and losing only three of the 24 matches played under him.
RB Leipzig are currently fourth in the Bundesliga. They’ve gathered 54 points from 31 matches and are two points ahead of SC Freiburg in fifth place. Leipzig also trail Bayer Leverkusen in third by just a single point and they are firmly in contention for securing Champions League football for next season. Leipzig are also gunning for two pieces of silverware this season, with the other one potentially arriving in the DFB Pokal.
They were up against formidable challengers in Atalanta in the previous round of the Europa League. After securing a 1-1 stalemate at home, RB Leipzig secured the tie with a dominant performance in Bergamo. Christopher Nkunku, who is one of Europe’s hottest prospects right now, scored a brace that included a penalty just three minutes before the stipulated time. That took his season’s tally to 30 goals and 20 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions.
Tedesco’s side also won by two goals away from home in the round of 16 stage against Real Sociedad. It clearly shows how Leipzig have been raising their game on the road in the Europa League this season and therefore even a draw in the upcoming fixture will not exactly be a cause of concern for the German club.
On the other hand, Rangers look like they’re about to concede the Scottish Premiership title to Celtic. They have won 24 of the 34 games this season and have 79 points in the bank. Despite losing only three matches all season in the domestic lead Rangers trail Celtic by six points at the top of the table.
Speculation surrounding the Scottish club suggests that Giovanni van Bronckhorst hasn’t exactly been convincing since taking over from Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard back in November. With that being said, however, there’s also truth to the fact that Rangers have reached the semi-finals of the Europa League and can also have the Scottish Cup in their sights with the final yet to be played. Van Bronckhorst will be convinced that his players can replicate the form and magic from earlier in the competition.
The majestic success over Borussia Dortmund set the tone for the rest of the campaign for Rangers. However, given the way that they played against Red Star Belgrade and Braga, one might think that there’s more to come from this incredible set of players. However, the Glasgow giants will feel that it took them longer than necessary to defeat Braga who were eventually reduced to nine men during extra time in the second leg of the quarter-finals. Kemar Roofe scored the all-important goal in the 101st minute to secure his side’s passage into the final courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate scoreline.
Rangers are arriving into this clash on a four-match winning streak. This run includes a victory over arch-rivals and league leaders Celtic in the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. They have found the back of the net on 12 occasions during this period of dominance.
Rangers had to half and puff their cheeks in order to secure a 3-1 victory against Motherwell away from home. Scott Wright and James Tavernier scored the decisive goals for Rangers while centre-back Leon Balogun saw his marching orders in the first half of the contest.
Having said that, there will be concerns for the site heading into this important class as Aaron Ramsey and Kemar Roofe have joined the injury list recently. Rangers have one only 2 of the last 24 matches in Europe away to German opposition. However, one of those wins came in February against Borussia Dortmund.
Although they have never faced RB Leipzig before, Rangers have managed to reach the semi-final stage of a major European competition for the seventh time in their history. They have also equalled league leaders Celtic for the most semi-finals contested in major European competitions among Scottish clubs.
RBL vs RAN, UEFA Europa League 2021/22
Date: 29th April, 2022
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Red Bull Arena, Leipzig
RB Leipzig Europa League form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
Rangers Europa League form:
Rangers form (all competitions):
RB Leipzig wins: 0
Rangers wins: 0
RBL vs RAN TEAM NEWS:
RB Leipzig Team News: RB Leipzig will be without the services of Amadou Haidara at the Red Bull Arena after the midfielder suffered a long-term knee injury. The German side also have a whole host of suspension issues to deal with ahead of this fixture. Willi Orban, Mohamed Simakan and Kevin Kampl will all have to serve one-match bans in this clash.
Nordi Mukiele is expected to start in defence. Lukas Klostermann is also supposed to partner him, providing that he has fully recovered from COVID-19. Dan Olmo is likely to be reinstated back into the heart of midfield, and he is the team’s chief creator.
Andre Silva is likely to partner in-form striker Christopher Nkunku, which might relegate Yussuf Poulsen to the bench.
Rangers Team News: Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos have been confirmed to be on the sidelines while star midfielder Aaron Ramsey is also expected to miss out here. In his absence, Fashion Sakala might get the nod in the heard of the Rangers frontline.
John Lundstram, Joe Aribo, and Ryan Kent were rested for this weekend but are expected to return to the starting XI here. Calvin Bassey might get the nod to start at left-back for Rangers.
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 possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Mukiele, Klostermann, Gvardiol; Henrichs, Laimer, Adams, Angelino; Olmo; Nkunku, Silva
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey; Kamara, Lundstram, Jack; Aribo, Sakala, Kent
While they did secure a massive win over Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig are unlikely to make the same mistakes as their German counterparts. Rangers have a formidable challenge on their hands and key players suffering injuries has only made it even worse for them.
It will be interesting to see whether they can sustain the tempo and momentum needed to succeed for the entirety of 90 minutes but RB Leipzig are the overwhelming favourites to secure yet another win here.