Scottish champions Rangers host the Czech title holders with their intriguingly poised at 1-1.
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Newly-crowned Scottish champions Rangers will be looking to profit from home advantage as they take on Czech tile holders and league leaders Slavia Praha at Ibrox with this UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie intriguingly poised at 1-1.
• Rangers topped their UEFA Europa League group in impressive style during the autumn, doing the double over both Lech Poznań and Standard Liège as well as holding Benfica to two draws. In the round of 32 they posted two further wins against Belgian opposition, seeing off Antwerp 9-5 on aggregate (4-3 a, 5-2 h) in the highest-scoring UEFA Europa League knockout phase tie of all time.
• Slavia made up for a UEFA Champions League play-off defeat by convincingly coming through a UEFA Europa League section headed by Bayer Leverkusen with 12 points before knocking out England's Leicester City in the round of 32 (0-0 h, 2-0 a).
• The clubs met for the first time on 11 March at the Eden Arena, and there was nothing to separate them as Slavia took an early lead through a powerful Nicolae Stanciu strike before Rangers levelled with a close-range Filip Helander effort to stretch their unbeaten European run in 2020/21 to 12 matches.
• Despite winning all three of their previous encounters at home to Czech sides – all in first round first legs – Rangers lost every tie, the two most recent on away goals after extra time, against Sparta Praha in the 1991/92 European Cup and Viktoria Žižkov in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.
• Slavia lost their two previous away games against Scottish sides, both in the UEFA Cup first round second leg – 0-3 against Saint Mirren in 1985/86 and 2-4 against Hearts in 1992/93 – and were eliminated on each occasion.
• Rangers were in second place 13 points behind Celtic when the 2019/20 Scottish Premiership came to a premature end. They also enjoyed a lengthy run in Europe, progressing from the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League all the way to the round of 16, where, as Scotland's last team standing, they were eliminated by Leverkusen (1-3 h, 0-1 a).
• Steven Gerrard's side came through three qualifiers to reach this season's group stage, beating Lincoln Red Imps (5-0) and Willem II (4-0) on the road before a 2-1 play-off success against Galatasaray at Ibrox. They made it five wins out of five by beating Standard (2-0) and Lech (1-0 h) in the first two games of Group D before holding Benfica 3-3 in Lisbon and 2-2 in Glasgow and then posting second wins against their Belgian and Polish opponents to seal top spot.
• The record-breaking win against Antwerp put the Gers into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time. They have yet to make further progress, having lost out to PSV Eindhoven in 2010/11 (0-0 a, 0-1 h) and Leverkusen last season.
• Rangers' 1-3 loss to Leverkusen in the 2019/20 round of 16 first leg is the only home defeat in their last 23 UEFA matches at Ibrox (W16 D6). The clean sheet on Matchday 2 against Lech is nevertheless the only one they have managed in their last eight European home fixtures, seven having been registered in the previous eight.
• Rangers have won eight of the ten previous UEFA two-legged ties in which they drew the first game away, including the most recent, against Legia Warszawa in last season's UEFA Europa League play-off (0-0 a, 1-0 h). Their record after drawing the away first leg 1-1 is W5 L1, three of those successes having come in their triumphant 1971/72 European Cup Winners' Cup campaign – against Rennes (1-0 h), Torino (1-0 h) and, in the semi-final, Bayern München (2-0 h).
• Champions of the Czech Republic for the third time in four years last season, Slavia missed out on a second successive UEFA Champions League group stage adventure this term when, led again by coach Jindřich Trpišovský, they were defeated by Midtjylland in the play-offs (0-0 h, 1-4 a).
• Fourth in their UEFA Champions League section last season, behind Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Internazionale, Slavia finished second in their UEFA Europa League group this term, a run of four successive wins from Matchday 2 to Matchday 5 enabling them to finish runners-up to Leverkusen – who closed the section by beating them 4-0 in Germany – ahead of Hapoel Beer-Sheva and Nice.
• Goals against Leicester from Lukáš Provod and Abdallah Sima gave Slavia their first ever win in England last time out, taking the club into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second time. Their first tie at this stage, in 2018/19, was one for the ages as they pulled off a momentous 6-5 aggregate win against competition specialists Sevilla (2-2 a, 4-3 h aet).
• Slavia's win at Leicester on Matchday 4 is one of only three in their last 11 European away fixtures (D3 L5), though they did draw at both Inter (1-1) and Barcelona (0-0) in last season's UEFA Champions League. Their overall record on the road in the UEFA Europa League proper is W5 D4 L7.
• Slavia have won five of the 11 UEFA ties in which they drew the first leg at home. All five victories, however, have come after goalless draws, including against Leicester in the round of 32. On all three previous occasions that they have drawn the first leg 1-1 they have gone out after failing to score in the return, most recently losing to Dynamo Kyiv in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (0-2 a).
Links and trivia
• Rangers' Ianis Hagi and Slavia's Nicolae Stanciu are fellow Romanian internationals.
• Rangers duo Joe Aribo and Leon Balogun are Nigeria team-mates of Slavia's Peter Olayinka.
• Ryan Jack was in the Scotland side that defeated a Czech Republic team featuring six Slavia players – Provod, Jan Bořil, Ondřej Kúdela, Lukáš Masopust and substitutes David Hovorka and Petr Ševčík – 1-0 at Hampden Park in the UEFA Nations League on 14 October 2020.
• Rangers are one of five clubs appearing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second successive season, along with Manchester United, Olympiacos, Roma and Shakhtar Donetsk.
• Rangers wrapped up their record-extending 55th Scottish league title – and first for a decade – on 7 March. They are unbeaten in the Premiership this season, winning 28 and drawing four of their 32 games, and travel to deposed champions Celtic on Sunday.
• Slavia are also undefeated in their domestic league, having recorded 19 wins and four draws in their 23 fixtures. They maintained that run – and a sizeable lead at the top of the table – with a 3-0 win at Mladá Boleslav on Sunday, Stanciu scoring two of the goals.
• Rangers' record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W3 L1:
1-3 v Borussia Dortmund, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup third round
4-3 v Paris Saint-Germain, 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round
4-2 v Marítimo, 2004/05 UEFA Cup first round
4-2 v Fiorentina, 2007/08 UEFA Cup semi-final
• Slavia's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
5-4 v Schalke, 1998/99 UEFA Cup first round
4-3 v Žilina, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round