January 23, 2021

Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers preview

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Team news and ways to follow ahead of Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers in the Europa League last-16 second leg.

Team news

Nadiem Amiri has been ruled out for Bayer Leverkusen. As a precautionary measure, the midfielder is in quarantine after a member of his personal circle has been infected with coronavirus.

“This procedure shows that our hygiene measures are working and that the players are sensitised to the important corona issue,” said Bayer Leverkusen boss Rudi Voller in a statement.

“Nadiem’s behaviour is exemplary and important. Particularly in view of the current increase in the number of infections in Germany, this is an example of a serious and responsible approach to the pandemic.”

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard will not be able to call upon either of his new recruits as they return to Europa League action after a five month hiatus.

Steven Gerrard 0:45
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard believes his side now have ‘more firepower’ after they signed strikers Kemar Roofe from Anderlecht and Cedric Itten from St Gallen

Forwards Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe are not available so it will instead be down to Alfredo Morelos to lead the line against Bayer Leverkusen as Rangers look to overturn March’s 3-1 first-leg defeat at the Bay Arena.

But Gerrard has no concerns about starting the Colombian despite the widely held belief that his days in Glasgow are numbered now that the Light Blues have secured a couple of replacement options up front.

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“If it’s a signal for other people there is nothing I can do about that,” said Gerrard. “Alfredo is still a Rangers player. He is with us over here, he’s focused on the game tomorrow and he’ll continue to be a Rangers player until things change. The only way things will change is if a bid comes in that the board and myself are happy with.

“At the moment that hasn’t happened, so we move ahead together, we stay professional and we keep trying to get this football club results. Alfredo Morelos is our player. He’s the player that I need to focus on. He’s fit, he’s available. He wants to play, he’s ready to play. You’ll see tomorrow whether I decide to play him but I have no issues with using Alfredo tomorrow if that’s what you want to know.”

Alfredo Morelos was at Glasgow Airport with the rest of the Rangers squad
Image: Alfredo Morelos was at Glasgow Airport with the rest of the Rangers squad

How to follow

Follow Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers on Sky Sports’ digital platforms with a dedicated live blog from 5pm on Thursday.

Alfredo Morelos has been fully focused on Rangers despite ongoing transfer speculation, according to Gerrard 0:24
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard says the club have not received an acceptable bid for striker Alfredo Morelos amid transfer speculation over a move to French side Lille

Opta facts

  • This will be the fourth competitive meeting between Leverkusen and Rangers with each of the previous three all coming in the UEFA Cup/Europa League (one win each and one draw). Rangers’ only victory against Bayer Leverkusen came away from home, beating the Germans 2-1 in the last 32 of the 1998-99 UEFA Cup.
  • Rangers have won just one of their last 19 away matches against German opposition in major European competition (D8 L10), a 2-1 victory at Leverkusen in October 1998, failing to score in 14 of those games.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will be aiming to reach the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup/Europa League for the first time since 2007-08. The German side have lost just two of their 18 two legged knockout ties in major European competition having won the first leg, with their last such elimination coming against Atlético de Madrid in the last 16 of the 2014-15 Champions League campaign.
  • Rangers will need to overturn a 3-1 first leg defeat to reach the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup/Europa League for the first time since 2007-08 (losing finalists that year); Indeed, the Scottish side have progressed from each of their last two two legged knockout ties in major European competition when they’ve lost the first leg (against Marítimo in 2004-05 and Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2006-07).
  • Alfredo Morelos has been involved in seven of Rangers’ 13 Europa League goals this campaign (6 goals, 1 assist).
preview image 2:59
Highlights of the Scottish Premiership match between Aberdeen and Rangers

Charlie’s prediction

Leverkusen have had a few weeks off after the end of the Bundesliga season, while Rangers are now back into it, winning in France during preseason and earning a great result at Aberdeen on Saturday when they looked OK.

Rangers have surprised me a lot in this competition, especially away from home, but Leverkusen were great in Glasgow. Steven Gerrard wants to play a 4-3-3, but he will play five at the back for this, and he will try and hang in to see if they can nick the first goal. I do not see this materialising.

Rangers are improving under Gerrard, but with the Scottish Premiership starting, it is more important than the Europa League stands right now. Gerrard will make sure his side do not get embarrassed and walk away with their heads held high.

CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)

Ryan Kent celebrates with Alfredo Morelos after scoring for Rangers 2:11
Ally McCoist believes Rangers will sell Alfredo Morelos if they get the right offer and can buy a suitable goal-scoring replacement

Last-16 ties remaining

  • Manchester United v LASK (5-0)
  • Wolves v Olympiakos (1-1)
  • Bayer Leverkusen v Rangers (3-1)
  • Copenhagen v Istanbul Basaksehir (0-1)
  • Basel v Eintracht Frankfurt (3-0)
  • Shakhtar Donetsk v Wolfsburg (2-1)
  • Inter Milan vs Getafe (single knockout game)
  • Sevilla vs Roma (single knockout game)

Quarter-final draw in full

  • Shakhtar Donetsk/Wolfsburg vs Basel/Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Manchester United/LASK vs Copenhagen/Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Inter Milan/Getafe vs Bayer Leverkusen/Rangers
  • Wolves/Olympiakos vs Sevilla/Roma

Semi-final draw in full

  • Wolves/Olympiakos or Sevilla/Roma vs Manchester United/LASK or Copenhagen/Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Shakhtar Donetsk/Wolfsburg or Basel/Eintracht Frankfurt v Inter Milan/Getafe or Bayer Leverkusen/Rangers

Europa League: key dates

  • Europa League last-16: August 5/6 (kick-off 5.55pm, 8pm BST)
  • Europa League quarter-finals: August 10/11 (8pm BST)
  • Europa League semi-finals: August 16/17 (8pm BST)
  • Europa League final: August 21 (8pm BST)

For a full assessment of the Europa League state of play read more here