Rangers will hope for an encore of a memorable quarter-final comeback against a Leipzig side looking to protect a 1-0 advantage from the first leg.
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Rangers will hope for an encore of a memorable quarter-final comeback as they return to Ibrox for the second leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final against a Leipzig side looking to protect a 1-0 advantage from the first leg in Germany and reach a European final for the first time.
• 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 Europe this spring.
• 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.
• A tightly contested first leg ended happily for the home side as Leipzig won the game 1-0 with a spectacular late volley from Angeliño – the Spaniard's first goal in the UEFA Europa League.
• This is Rangers' 51st UEFA match against German opposition. Their record in the first 50 is W17 D15 L18. They have been victorious in 13 of the 24 home fixtures, losing only four, but have failed to win any of the last three, the draw against Dortmund following back-to-back defeats. The Glasgow side's record in two-legged ties against German teams is W9 L10.
• 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.
• 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 Giovanni 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.
• Rangers have lost just five of their last 33 European home matches (W21 D7), although three of those defeats have come in the last nine – against Slavia, Malmö and Lyon. In the UEFA Europa League knockout phase their record at Ibrox is W4 D2 L3, their three eliminations all triggered by those home defeats.
• Rangers have lost 21 of the 27 UEFA ties in which they were defeated on the road in the first leg, the latest instance occurring in this season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round against Malmö. However, four of their aggregate successes have come in the six ties when they lost the first away leg 1-0, most recently in this season's quarter-final against Braga (3-1 h aet).
• 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's away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W3 D1 L1, with 11 goals scored and eight conceded, the sole defeat that 5-2 reverse in Marseille four years ago. They had lost three European away games in succession, conceding 11 goals, before posting their biggest European win in Bruges on Matchday 5 and making it three away victories in a row with those tie-clinching UEFA Europa League wins in San Sebastián and Bergamo.
• Leipzig have won three of the four previous UEFA ties in which they claimed a home victory in the first leg, though the sole aggregate defeat came on the one previous occasion when the first-leg scoreline was 1-0 – that UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Marseille in 2017/18.
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.
• Borna Barišić (Rangers) and Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig) are both current Croatian internationals, while Rangers' James Sands and Leipzig's Tyler Adams 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 24 goals in their 11 matches.
• Rangers' Joe Aribo is the only player to have appeared on all 13 UEFA Europa League matchdays this season (11 starts, 2 substitute appearances), although seven of his team-mates have appeared in 12 of the 13 games – Tavernier, Barišić, Allan McGregor, Connor Goldson, John Lundstram, Glen Kamara and Calvin Bassey.
• There have been four previous UEFA Europa League semi-finals in which a team that lost the first leg came back to win the tie – all after away defeats by a one-goal margin. The last such comeback was by Liverpool against Villarreal in 2015/16 (0-1 a, 3-0 h).
• 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' 18th 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.
• Rangers came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Celtic on Sunday but remain six points in arrears of their city rivals with three Premiership games remaining.
• Leipzig lost 3-1 at Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Monday evening, having dropped from fourth to fifth the previous day, a point behind forthcoming German Cup final opponents Freiburg with two league games remaining.
• 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
• Leipzig have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.