Rangers' marathon UEFA Europa League campaign stretches into a 17th fixture as they play host to German heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen.
Rangers' marathon UEFA Europa League campaign stretches into a 17th fixture as they play host to German heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen, both sides having impressively eliminated Portuguese opposition in the round of 32.
• After coming through four qualifying ties, Rangers negotiated their way through a highly competitive Group G in the autumn, finishing runners-up to Porto ahead of Young Boys and Feyenoord. They recovered from going two goals down to beat Braga 3-2 at Ibrox in the first leg of the round of 32 before clinching qualification with a 1-0 win in Portugal thanks to Ryan Kent's second-half breakaway strike.
• Leverkusen entered the UEFA Europa League in the knockout phase after crossing over from the UEFA Champions League, where they finished third in Group D behind Juventus and Atlético Madrid on six points. They were convincing conquerors of 2010/11 winners Porto in the round of 32, winning 2-1 at home and 3-1 away with Lucas Alario and Kai Havertz scoring in both legs.
• Uniquely among the eight round of 16 ties, Rangers and Leverkusen have been paired before in UEFA competition. They met 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
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).
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.