Leipzig's second European semi-final in three seasons brings them up against a Rangers side who have already knocked out German opposition this year.
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Leipzig's second European semi-final in three seasons brings them up against a Rangers side who have already knocked out German opposition on their lengthy journey to the last four of the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League.
• Leipzig moved across from the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in a group dominated by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. They then overcame Real Sociedad in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs (2-2 h, 3-1 a) before receiving a bye against Spartak Moskva in the round of 16 and ending Italian interest in the competition with a quarter-final defeat of Atalanta (1-1 h, 2-0 a), French international Christopher Nkunku scoring both goals in Bergamo to reach double figures in Europe this season.
• Rangers clinched a UEFA Europa League knockout phase berth with a game to spare, finishing runners-up to Lyon in Group A with eight points. They then eliminated Borussia Dortmund 6-4 on aggregate in the knockout round play-offs (4-2 a, 2-2 h), Crvena zvezda 4-2 over the two legs in the round of 16 (3-0 h, 1-2 a) and Braga 3-2 after extra-time in the quarter-finals (0-1 a, 3-1 h), skipper James Tavernier striking twice in the second leg at Ibrox to make it six goals in six European games this spring.
• Leipzig's only previous UEFA encounters with Scottish opposition were against Celtic in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League group stage, when they won 2-0 at home before losing 2-1 in Glasgow. The German club finished the section in third place, a point behind their Scottish rivals, who went through as runners-up to Salzburg.
• This is Rangers' 50th UEFA match against German opposition. Their record is W17 D15 L17, although the recent win in Dortmund was just the fourth in their 24 away fixtures in the country (D8 L12), with seven defeats and a draw in the previous eight.
• Rangers' last win in Germany before this season was a 2-1 success at Bayer Leverkusen in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup second round first leg, current boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst scoring their first goal in a tie Rangers went on to win 3-2 on aggregate.
• Second in the Bundesliga in 2020/21, their joint highest finish, this is Leipzig's fifth European campaign, all in the past five seasons. They reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last term, where they were eliminated by Liverpool, having been semi-finalists, also under coach Julian Nagelsmann, the season before.
• New boss Jesse Marsch was in charge for the start of this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, but defeats at Manchester City (3-6), at home to Club Brugge (1-2) and in Paris (2-3) scuppered their chances of a third successive knockout phase appearance. A 2-2 home draw with the French side was then followed by a 5-0 win in Belgium and a closing 2-1 home success against the English club, for which interim boss Achim Beierlorzer was in charge before handing over the reins to Domenico Tedesco.
• This is the most successful of the German side's three UEFA Europa League participations, their debut campaign in 2017/18 having ended in the quarter-finals, where they were defeated by Marseille (1-0 h, 2-5 a), before that group stage elimination the following season. Their one previous European semi-final, in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, ended in a single-leg 3-0 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon.
• Leipzig have won just one of their last six European home matches (D3 L2) – on Matchday 6 this season against Manchester City. Their home record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase now reads W2 D2 L1, with score draws in both games this term.
• Undefeated champions of Scotland in 2020/21 as they claimed a record-extending 55th domestic league title, Rangers also played 13 matches in the UEFA Europa League, progressing from the second qualifying round to the round of 16, where their run was ended by Slavia Praha (1-1 a, 0-2 h).
• Rangers returned to the UEFA Champions League for the first time in a decade this term, but they lost both third qualifying round legs 2-1 to Malmö and therefore transferred to the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they edged Alashkert to reach the group stage for the fourth successive season. Although they lost their opening two group games – against Lyon (0-2 h) and Sparta Praha (0-1 a) – they remained unbeaten thereafter, taking four points off Brøndby (2-0 h, 1-1 a) and clinching second place with a 2-0 victory over Sparta at Ibrox on Matchday 5 in their first match under new manager Van Bronckhorst, who had replaced Steven Gerrard.
• This is Rangers' first appearance in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, their three previous participations in the knockout phase having all come to a halt in the round of 16. In UEFA competition overall this is the Glasgow club's sixth semi-final, with victories in all of the last four, the latest in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup when they overcame Fiorentina on penalties in Italy after two goalless draws. Their only semi-final defeat was in their first such tie, in the 1959/60 European Cup, when German side Eintracht Frankfurt overwhelmed them 12-4 on aggregate to prevent them reaching the final at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.
• Having gone through their 2020/21 European campaign without a single defeat outside Glasgow (W5 D2), Rangers failed to record a win on their continental travels this term (D3 L2) until that 4-2 victory in Dortmund. The two subsequent defeats in Belgrade and Braga have made their all-time away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase W3 D3 L3.
Links and trivia
• Leipzig defeated Rangers 4-0 at home in a January 2017 friendly, Yussuf Poulsen scoring two of the goals.
• Rangers' Nigerian international defender Leon Balogun was born in Berlin and has represented five German clubs – Hannover (2008–10), Werder Bremen (2010–12), Fortuna Düsseldorf (2012–14), Darmstadt (2014/15) and Mainz (2015–18).
• Ryan Kent spent the first half of 2017/18 on loan at Freiburg, making six Bundesliga appearances.
• Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig) and Borna Barišić (Rangers) are both current Croatian internationals, while Leipzig's Tyler Adams and Rangers' James Sands both play for the United States.
• Rangers loanee Aaron Ramsey scored twice past Leipzig goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi as Wales defeated Hungary 2-0 at home in November 2019 to secure qualification for UEFA EURO 2020. Dominik Szoboszlai was also in the Hungary side.
• Tavernier's double in Rangers' home win against Braga has made him the joint leading scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League, his six goals – all in the knockout phase – drawing him level with Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon) and Galeno (Braga/Porto), both of whose goals all came in the group stage and whose clubs have now been eliminated.
• Leipzig have found the net in all of their European games this season, scoring 23 goals in their ten matches.
• Germany are the only country with more than one club in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals – Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt. It is the first season in which two Bundesliga sides have appeared in the last four of the competition. No German team has ever reached the UEFA Europa League final.
• Of the four UEFA Europa League semi-finalists Leipzig are the most recent participants in the last four of a European competition – in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League. However, they are the only one of the four remaining clubs never to have won a major UEFA club competition.
• Rangers are the first Scottish club to appear in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, making Scotland the 12th country represented at this stage of the competition. The last Scottish side to lift a major European trophy were Aberdeen, who won the European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup double in 1983.
• This is Rangers' 17th European encounter of the season – the most of any of the UEFA Europa League semi-finalists. They are the only team among the last four whose 2021/22 European campaign began in the qualifying phase and the only group runners-up to have reached this stage of the competition.
• Three days after defeating Union Berlin 2-1 at home in the semi-final of the German Cup to reach their third final in four seasons – in which they will meet Freiburg on 21 May – Leipzig lost the same fixture 1-2 in the Bundesliga on Saturday to end a 15-game unbeaten run in all competitions and drop from third to fourth in the table.
• Rangers will also contest the Scottish Cup final on 21 May, against Hearts, thanks to a 2-1 extra-time win against Celtic in the semi-final on 17 April. They also won 3-1 at Motherwell in the Premiership on Saturday – despite Balogun's 28th-minute red card – to make it four successive victories in all competitions, though they remain six points behind Celtic in the league standings.