UEFA Europa League - 2019/20 SeasonMatch press kits
|Rangers FC||Ibrox Stadium - GlasgowThursday 20 February 2020|
21.00CET (20.00 local time) Round of 32, First leg
Rangers' first appearance in the knockout phase of a European competition for nine years brings them a UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie against a Braga side who are unbeaten in ten continental outings this season but have changed their coach since the group stage.
• The Glasgow giants negotiated their way through a highly competitive Group G, two wins, three draws and a defeat enabling them to finish runners-up to Porto and ahead of Young Boys and Feyenoord. Braga amassed 14 points in Group K, winning all three away fixtures against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Beşiktaş and Slovan Bratislava.
• The clubs have never previously faced each other in UEFA competition.
• Rangers are unbeaten at home to Portuguese clubs in UEFA games, winning the first five of the eight matches, then drawing the next two before overcoming Porto 2-0 in this season's group stage with goals from Alfredo Morelos and Steven Davis. The Glasgow club have won all but one of their six two-legged ties against opposition from Portugal, including the most recent on away goals against Sporting CP in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (1-1 h, 2-2 a).
• Braga's two previous visits to Scotland in UEFA competition have both brought defeats – 1-3 against Hearts in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup first round and 1-2 at Celtic in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, though they won the latter tie 4-2 on aggregate en route to participating in the group stage of that competition for the first time.
• Rangers qualified for 2019/20 European competition as runners-up to Celtic in last season's Scottish Premiership. They also won four qualifying ties to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time, but just one win and six points prevented them from making further progress.
• Once again Rangers were obliged to come through four qualifiers to reach this season's group stage, going undefeated in knocking out St Joseph's, Progrès Niederkorn, Midtjylland and Legia Warszawa. In Group G they beat Feyenoord and Porto at home and drew with both sides away but lost to a late winner at Young Boys before securing their qualification at the Swiss side's expense with a 1-1 draw at Ibrox on Matchday 6.
• The Gers' only previous UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie was that victory against Sporting in 2010/11. They also won back-to-back UEFA Cup round of 32 ties in 2006/07 (v Hapoel Tel-Aviv, 1-2 a, 4-0 h) and 2007/08 (v Panathinaikos, 0-0 h, 1-1 a), going on to reach the final in the latter campaign.
• Rangers are undefeated in 16 home European matches, winning 11 of them including six out of seven this season. They have conceded just six goals in those 16 matches, only two this term, and no visiting team has scored more than once in any of the Gers' last 22 UEFA competition encounters in Glasgow, stretching back to Matchday 5 of the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League when they lost 0-2 to Stuttgart.
• Braga's 15th European qualification in the last 16 years was achieved with a fourth-placed finish in the 2018/19 Portuguese Liga, a season in which their European ambitions ended unusually early with elimination on away goals by Zorya Luhansk in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
• Brøndby (4-2 a, 3-1 h) and Spartak Moskva (1-0 h, 2-1 a) were both overcome in this season's qualifying phase to take Braga into the UEFA Europa League group stage for the fifth time. There they opened up with a 1-0 win at competition debutants Wolves before recording further victories against Beşiktaş (2-1 a, 3-1 h) and Slovan Bratislava (4-2 a) as well as draws at home to both Slovan (2-2) and Wolves (3-3).
• Braga are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the fifth time. Their record at this stage of the competition is W2 L2, beating Lech Poznań in 2010/11 (0-1 a, 2-0 h) and Sion in 2015/16 (2-1 a, 2-2 h) but losing to Beşiktaş in 2011/12 (0-2 h, 1-0 a) and Marseille in 2017/18 (0-3 a, 1-0 h). They were runners-up in 2010/11, knocking out Liverpool and Benfica among others before losing the Dublin final 1-0 to domestic rivals Porto.
• Braga are unbeaten in 13 European matches (W9 D4) and have won eight out of ten this season, their last defeat dating back to the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg when they lost 3-0 at Marseille. Their record on the road in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W2 D2 L5 but they have won all five of their fixtures outside Portugal this term.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Ianis Hagi (Genk, loan), Florian Kamberi (Hibernian, loan), Brian Kinnear*, Joshua McPake*, Matt Polster
Out: Jamie Barjonas (Partick Thistle, loan), Jon Flanagan, Filip Helander, Jordan Houston (Ayr), Andy King (end of loan), Lewis Mayo, Ryan Muir, Zak Rudden (Partick Thistle), Aidan Wilson, Kieran Wright, Matt Yates
In: Raul Silva, Abel Ruiz (Barcelona, loan), Vítor Tormena
Out: Murilo Costa (Sporting Gijón, loan), Wanderson, Claudemir (Sivasspor), Uche Agbo (end of loan), Lucas Cunha, Ahmed Hassan (Olympiacos, loan), Pablo Santos, Bruno Xadas (Marítimo, loan)
Links and trivia
• Rangers striker Jermain Defoe has played against Braga in European competition for both Tottenham Hotspur (2006/07 UEFA Cup) and Portsmouth (2008/09 UEFA Cup).
• Braga goalkeeper Eduardo and Rangers' left-back Borna Barišić were briefly Dinamo Zagreb team-mates in 2015/16.
• Rui Fonte (Braga) and Sheyi Ojo (Rangers) played together in the English Championship for Fulham in 2017/18.
• Morelos, Rangers' Colombian striker, was the top scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase with eight goals, and he is also the leading marksman in the competition proper with six in the group stage.
• Rangers are one of only two clubs to have reached this season's knockout phase after beginning their UEFA Europa League journey in the first qualifying round, Malmö being the other.
• Braga were one of only two teams to come through this season's UEFA Europa League group stage unbeaten, together with Group I winners Gent.
• A Liverpool legend with 186 goals in 710 appearances for the Anfield club, most of them as captain, Steven Gerrard launched his managerial career at Glasgow giants Rangers in May 2018. An England international for 14 years, accumulating 114 caps and 21 goals, the dynamic midfielder won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Liverpool as well as both domestic cups. After an 18-month end-of-career spell with LA Galaxy he returned to coach Liverpool's youth team before the job at Ibrox lured him to Scotland, where he led the Gers to second place in the 2018/19 Premiership.
• Locally-born Micael Sequeira is officially the head coach of Braga under a new regime headed by Rúben Amorim following the dismissal on 23 December of Ricardo Sá Pinto. Sequeira began his career at Braga in 1995 and remained there for the next 13 years as an assistant and head coach at youth and B team levels, later returning to the club for a short period as a scout in 2010/11 after a spell in the Portuguese second tier with Aves. Having also being charge of Trofense, he left for Al-Nassr in the summer of 2018 and guided the Saudi Arabian club to the national U19 title before returning to Braga.
UEFA Europa League knockout debut for VAR system
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be deployed in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. The decision was taken by the UEFA Executive Committee last September, following the introduction of the system in several UEFA competitions in the 2018/19 campaign.