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Rangers vs Leverkusen Europa League preview: where to watch, team news

Rangers host Bayer Leverkusen in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg – all you need to know.

James Tavernier celebrates Rangers' last-32 victory over Braga
James Tavernier celebrates Rangers' last-32 victory over Braga Getty Images

Leverkusen travel to Glasgow in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 on 12 March at 21:00 CET. This page will update with team news, quotes and expert analysis as kick-off approaches.


Where to watch the game on TV

Fans can find their local UEFA Europa League broadcast partner(s) here.

The teams

UEFA ranking: 94
Domestic position: 2
How they got there: Group G runners-up, 4-2 Braga
Last season: group stage (third)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: runners-up (2007/08)

Highlights: Rangers 3-2 Braga
Highlights: Rangers 3-2 Braga

UEFA ranking: 24
Domestic position: 5
How they got there: UEFA Champions League group stage, 5-2 Porto
Last season: round of 32 (lost on away goals v Krasnodar, 0-0a, 1-1h)
Previous UEFA Cup/Europa League best: winners (1987/88)

Possible line-ups

Rangers: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Edmundson, Barišic; Davis, Kamara; Arfield, Hagi, Kent; Morelos
: Defoe (calf), Jack (heel)
Doubtful: Tavernier (foot)
Misses next game if booked: Barišić, Jack, Kamara

Leverkusen: Hrádecký; Weiser, Tah, Tapsoba, Wendell; Aránguiz, Demirbay; Diaby, Paulinho, Bailey; Havertz
Out: Volland (foot), Amiri (shoulder), S Bender (knee), L Bender (thigh), Sinkgraven (ill), Alario (shoulder)
Misses next game if booked: Aránguiz, Bellarabi, Demirbay, Weiser

Highlights: Porto 1-3 Leverkusen
Highlights: Porto 1-3 Leverkusen

Expert prediction

Alex O'Henley, Rangers reporter: It looks to be UEFA Europa League or bust for Rangers this season; they're out the Scottish FA Cup and a good way adrift of city rivals Celtic in the league. Steven Gerrard’s side do seem to thrive on being the underdogs, though, and have saved their best performances for Europe. If they are to progress, they must cut out the defensive lapses that have cost them dearly domestically since the winter break.

James Thorogood, Leverkusen reporter: Leverkusen have had to wait 27 years for European silverware since their 1988 UEFA Cup win, but hopes are high. The manner of their round of 32 victory against Porto was a clear signal of intent for a side growing in maturity. No player better exemplifies that than Kai Havertz, who has rediscovered his best form since the turn of the year and was instrumental against Porto.

What the coaches say

Steven Gerrard speaking on Wednesday
Steven Gerrard speaking on WednesdayGetty Images

Steven Gerrard, Rangers manager: "I know they are a fantastic team. Anyone sitting that high in the Bundesliga has to be respected. They have shown they can compete at the top. We know the challenge, but we relish it and will give it our best shot."

Peter Bosz, Leverkusen coach: "They have beaten Braga, Porto and Feyenoord, so we know they will be dangerous. I have never played in Scotland so I am hoping to enjoy it. We are playing with confidence and we want to go far in this competition, but to do that we have to get past Rangers. We have to play as a unit. We want to win as a team – like always."

Previous meetings

• Uniquely among the eight round of 16 ties, Rangers and Leverkusen have been paired before in UEFA competition, meeting in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup second round with the Scottish club prevailing 3-2 on aggregate (2-1 a, 1-1 h) thanks to a goal in each game from Finnish striker Jonatan Johansson.

Carsten Ramelow is challenged by Colin Hendry during the sides' 1998 meeting
Carsten Ramelow is challenged by Colin Hendry during the sides' 1998 meetingBongarts/Getty Images

• While that is Leverkusen's lone previous experience of Scottish opposition, Rangers have met German clubs on 45 occasions, including Bayern München in the final of the 1966/67 European Cup Winners' Cup final, which they lost 1-0 after extra time. The Gers have a strong home record against German opponents (W13 D6 L3), although they lost the most recent such fixture at Ibrox, 0-2 to Stuttgart in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage, to end a run of five successive victories.

Form guide

• 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. Subsequent home and away wins against Braga mean that, with Celtic going out to Copenhagen, they are Scotland's longest surviving European representatives for the first time in nine years.

• The Gers' only previous UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie, in that 2010/11 season, ended in elimination by PSV Eindhoven (0-0 a, 0-1 h), though they did reach successive UEFA Cup last-16 ties in 2006/07 and 2007/08, losing the first, to Osasuna (1-1 h, 0-1 a), and winning the second, against Werder Bremen (2-0 h, 0-1 a), en route to that season’s final.

• Rangers are undefeated in 17 home European matches, winning 12 of them including seven out of eight this season. They have conceded just eight goals in those 17 matches, four of them this term, with Braga doubling that tally last time out and becoming the first visiting European team in 23 matches to score more than once at Ibrox – since that 2009/10 loss to Stuttgart.

Highlights: Braga 0-1 Rangers
Highlights: Braga 0-1 Rangers

• Fourth in last season's Bundesliga, Leverkusen thus entered the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 12th time. In their 2018/19 European campaign they were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League round of 32 by Krasnodar after topping a group featuring Ludogorets, FC Zürich and AEK Larnaca.

• The German club's bid to reach this season’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 was scuppered by defeats in their opening three matches – 1-2 at home to Lokomotiv Moskva, 0-3 at Juventus and 0-1 at Atlético Madrid – and although they rallied to beat Lokomotiv away (2-0) and Atlético at home (2-1), a home defeat by Juve on Matchday 6 (0-2) left them in third place.

•.Victory over Porto last month put Leverkusen into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time, but they have never made it beyond this stage, going out in both previous ties to Villarreal, in 2010/11 (2-3 h, 1-2 a) and 2015/16 (0-2 a, 0-0 h). Like Rangers, they were UEFA Cup round of 16 participants in both 2006/07 and 2007/08, winning both ties – the first against Lens (1-2 a, 3-0 h), the second, on away goals, against Hamburg (1-0 h, 2-3 a) – before exiting in the quarter-finals.

• Despite those autumn defeats in Turin and Madrid, Leverkusen have lost only three of their last 12 European away fixtures (W5 D4). Their record on the road in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W3 D1 L3.

Highlights: Leverkusen 2-1 Porto
Highlights: Leverkusen 2-1 Porto

Links and trivia 

• Glen Kamara (Rangers) and Lukas Hradecky (Leverkusen) are international team-mates for Finland.

• This is the only tie in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 between two clubs that have previously won a major UEFA competition, Rangers lifting the 1971/72 European Cup Winners' Cup and Leverkusen the 1987/88 UEFA Cup.

• While Rangers have won a record 54 Scottish league titles, Leverkusen have never been crowned champions of Germany.

• Alfredo Morelos, Rangers' Colombian striker, was the top scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase with eight goals, and the group stage with six. He has yet to score in the knockout phase.

• Rangers manager Steven Gerrard skippered Liverpool to back-to-back 3-1 wins against Leverkusen in the last 16 of the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League – en route to lifting the trophy in Istanbul. He had tasted defeat against the same opponents three years earlier as Leverkusen eliminated Liverpool in the quarter-finals (0-1 a, 4-2 h).

Five stunning round of 16 goals
Five stunning round of 16 goals

• Rangers are the only club to have reached this season's round of 16 after beginning their UEFA Europa League journey in the first qualifying round.

• Leverkusen are one of four UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, along with Internazionale, Olympiacos and Shakhtar Donetsk.

The coaches

• A Liverpool legend with 186 goals in 710 appearances for the Anfield club, most of them as captain, 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.

2008 final highlights: Zenit overcome Rangers
2008 final highlights: Zenit overcome Rangers

• A Dutch champion and three-time domestic cup winner with Feyenoord in the 1990s, Peter Bosz's eventful coaching career, which began in earnest at De Graafschap in 2002, peaked when he led Ajax to the final of the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League. The former Oranje midfielder spent just that one season in Amsterdam, subsequently replacing Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, where his reign lasted only six months. After a year's absence he returned to the Bundesliga to coach Bayer Leverkusen in December 2018 and succeeded in qualifying the Werkself for the UEFA Champions League.