Maribor v Rangers
Europa League Qualifier. Kick-off 7.15pm, Thursday 16th August. Live on Premier Sports
RANGERS will travel to Slovenia looking to have a boring second leg after they managed a 3-1 win in the first match in Glasgow. Maribor did get the tricky away goal though so last year’s Champions League group stagers may still be in with a chance in this one.
Goals from Lassana Coulibaly, James Tavernier and Alfredo Morelos have put Rangers in the driving seat for this Europa League qualifying return fixture.
They continued to show their quality under new manager Steven Gerrard and were the much more clinical side with twice the amount of shots on target despite only having one more attempt than Maribor in the game.
Much was said about the quality of Maribor’s defence going into the match but Rangers looked extremely lively and managed to unwind the Slovenian back four time and time again.
Maribor are still a quality side though and will look to finish off more of the chances they created at Ibrox this time at the Ljudski Vrt.
Rangers have been extremely impressive defensively under Gerrard though. For a team that conceded five on the last day of the 2017/18 season, they have really turned around both their defensive ability and personnel.
Eight of the 11 who started the 5-5 draw against Hibs at the end of last season are now no longer at the club or are now much further down the pecking order. In Gerrard’s nine matches the Gers have kept six clean sheets which is a fantastic record. In this away leg though I expect they will leak a goal as the Slovenians push so hard for at least one in this game where they have to score.
Despite only being four games into their domestic season, Maribor have already scored 15 goals with them putting away five in three of their four opening matches.
An astonishing stat and one that will surely cast fear over the Rangers back four. They only managed one in the opening leg but created enough chances to have four or five so with the game coming back to their home ground where they are so formidable their attackers must be licking their lips.
The Purples are unbeaten in their last 10 games at the Ljudski with 23 goals scored in the process, only four conceded and im backing them to score some more in this return fixture. Luka Zahovic has got four goals already this season and will be the man Rangers have to look out for alongside the massive Marcos Tavares.
Both teams have been scoring for fun recently and both managed to get past their respective opposition’s usually watertight defence last time out.
Due to Maribor’s fantastic home form and the amount of chances they created at Ibrox I’m going to back a narrow win for the Slovenians but I doubt they’ll get past this round as Rangers should also get a goal in this one with Alfredo Morelos on a hot streak recently. I'm predicting a tight 2-1 victory for Maribor.
Head to head
These teams have met a few times over the years in European qualifying rounds, Rangers have the upper hand with three wins in the last five matches, including last week's 3-1 victory at Ibrox.
Maribor v Rangers stats
- Rangers are still to lose under Steven Gerrard
- They have scored in all but one of their last 12 games
- Despite being only four games into the Prvaliga, Maribor already have a goal difference 10 better than the team nearest to them.