Bayer Leverkusen vs RangersUEFA Europa League, KO: 17:55 Aug 6, 2020, Bay Arena
RANGERS need snookers heading into the second leg of their Europa League clash with Bayer Leverkusen but can take some heart from the fact the Germans will be a bit ring-rusty.
Peter Bosz's men showed their class at Ibrox when they eased to a 3-1 victory (below) in what turned out to be the last game before lockdown.
I fancied the Bundesliga side to inflict Steven Gerrard's first European home defeat as Rangers boss and they delivered in what turned out to be a profitable night, with wonderkid Kai Havertz also bringing up my anytime scorer bet.
German football was the first to come out of lockdown, with Leverkusen just missing out on a Champions League place on the final day when their season finally finished.
But they haven't played since losing 4-2 to Bayern Munich in the German Cup Final on July 4 while Rangers have now come out of competitive cold storage.
Gerrard's side came through a tricky Premiership opener, with their win at Aberdeen helping to bring up my weekend treble, and head to Germany in high spirits.
However, they will need to score three times at the Bay Arena and conjure up one of their greatest European results to undo the damage wrought by Havertz and Co at Ibrox.
How the bookies view it
Rangers are outsiders to turn this tie around, with Bet365 pricing them at 18-1 to qualify while even a win on the night is as big 9/2 at Unibet. The draw is 16/5 at Bet365 while Leverkusen's best price for a win on the night is 4/6 with Genting.
Bayer Leverkusen were on of Europe's form teams when they came to Ibrox but their results have been patchy since returning from lockdown. They only won four of their last eight games in the domestic season, missing out on their main goals of Champions League qualification and German Cup glory.
Rangers' results have been impressive in pre-season, beating Lyon and Nice to lift the Veolia Trophy before defeating Coventry in an Ibrox friendly. They kept clean sheets in all those games and also shut out Aberdeen at Pittodrie when the competitive action got underway.
Players to watch
Leverkusen star Havertz looks set for a mega move this summer but Leverkusen insist they won't sell before their Europa League adventure is over. The youngster doesn't represent great value in the anytime scorer market here at a best 13/10 with Skybet but is 4/1 at Betway to score first like he did at Ibrox.
Leon Bailey's pace caused Rangers problems when he came off the bench to score in the first leg and the winger represents decent value in the anytime scorer market at 2/1 with Paddy Power.
Alfredo Morelos (below) is the Europa League's top scorer for 2019/20 but has scored just once this year and looks unsettled by constant transfer speculation. Gers splashed out on Kemar Roofe and Cedric Itten earlier this week to replace him so Morelos might not even play here in case an injury ruins his move away. For a Rangers goal, try playmaker Ianis Hagi instead at 5/1 with Betway.
Anything else catch the eye?
Leverkusen's defence looked suspect in the air towards the end of the Bundesliga season and the Rangers goal at Ibrox came from a George Edmundson header. So it could pay to be on a header to be scored, although that market hasn't been priced up yet.
The bookies think we will see a few goals, with over 2.5 strikes priced at just 8/13 with William Hill. But with Rangers looking in good shape at the back and Leverkusen needing time to get back into their stride I'm going to bet on under 2.5 goals at 7/5 with Unibet.
Betting on the score being level at half-time pays 6/4 at SportNation and I also fancy the second period to be the highest-scoring half at evens with Paddy Power.
This UEFA Europa League match between Bayer Leverkusen and Rangers will be played on Aug 6, 2020 and kick off at 17:55. Check below for our tipsters best Bayer Leverkusen vs Rangers prediction.