Royal Antwerp VS Glasgow Rangers, guests are favorites

Match Time:2/19/2021 04:00 Friday  (GMT+8)

UEFA Europa League --  Royal Antwerp   VS   Glasgow Rangers

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Rangers travel to Royal Antwerp for their Europa League round of 32 tie on Thursday evening, hoping to extend their unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions and move one step closer to progressing to the latter stages.

Meanwhile, the hosts are taking part in their first European knockout match in 27 years and are looking to cause an upset against Scotland's in-form side.


Match preview

Rangers progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League for the second successive season after finishing top of Group D, ahead of Portuguese giants Benfica.

Steven Gerrard's side are one of only six teams who remain unbeaten in this season's competition, after winning four and drawing two of their six group matches, scoring 13 goals in the process.

The Gers have been in the headlines for what has been such a wonderful campaign for Rangers fans so far, seeing their team sit 18 points clear of rivals Celtic at the summit of the Scottish Premiership and on course to clinch their first title since 2011.

However, this past week has seen the Ibrox outfit in the headlines for more concerning matters as the club have launched an internal probe following allegations that several players breached coronavirus protocols after attending a house party which was broken up by police.

After Jordan Jones and George Edmundson were both handed a seven-game ban for a similar offense two months ago, it seems likely that further punishments will be handed out to any players who are identified as being involved, the last thing that Gerrard would want at this stage of the season.

The Gers head into Thursday's match having only lost the first leg of a major European knockout tie once in their last nine fixtures, although this was in last season's Europa League last-16 match against Bayer Leverkusen.

Rangers – who have already defeated Belgian opposition this campaign, beating Standard Liege twice during the group stages – will be keen to gain a foothold in the tie against a Royal Antwerp side who they have never faced in a competitive match.

Royal Antwerp have entered unfamiliar territory as they reached the knockout stages of a major European competition for the first time since losing 10-2 on aggregate to Newcastle United in the first round of the 1994-95 UEFA Cup.

The Great Old won four of their six Group J matches and finished second behind Tottenham Hotspur, despite claiming a surprise 1-0 home victory over Jose Mourinho's side back in October.

Antwerp are to play their first leg against the Gers in Belgium despite several other European matches being rescheduled to other destinations in Europe amid different coronavirus travel bans across the continent.

Franky Vercauteren's side head into Thursday's match having won only one of their previous four games against Scottish opponents, beating Dundee United 4-0 at home in the 1989-90 UEFA Cup.

Antwerp will be hoping to shore up their backline against the Gers after conceding in six of their last seven matches in all competitions, including a 3-1 defeat to Club Brugge in the Belgian Cup last Wednesday.

Even though Rangers will be red-hot favourites to progress from this last-32 tie, Antwerp know that a positive first leg result can give them belief that they can cause an upset and progress to the latter stages.


Royal Antwerp Europa League form: WWLWWL

Royal Antwerp form (all competitions): WWWWLD

Rangers Europa League form: WWDDWW

Rangers form (all competitions): DWWWDW


Team News

Antwerp boss Franky Vercauteren is without several first-team players ahead of Thursday's match with top goalscorer Dieumerci Mbokani, who has missed the last four weeks with a calf injury, the most notable absentee.

Dylan Batubinsika and Jean Butez are both suffering with ankle injuries, while Faris Haroun and Matheus are also out with calf problems.

Striker Didier Lamkel Ze is also unavailable for selection as he is suspended for the first leg.

Uruguayan forward Felipe Avenatti, who signed on loan from Standard Liege last month, is set to lead the line against the Gers.

Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos, who has recently served a three-game domestic ban, is in contention to start up front ahead of Cedric Itten.

Defender Leon Balogun and forward Kemar Roofe are both just one booking away from a suspension, which would see them miss the second leg, although Gerrard is likely to pick the pair in his starting lineup.


Royal Antwerp possible starting lineup:

Beiranvand; Seck, Le Marchand, de Laet; De Pauw, Hongla, Boya, Lukaku; Gerkens, Refaelov; Avenatti

Rangers possible starting lineup:

McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Davies, Jack, Aribo; Roofe, Morelos, Kent


Royal Antwerp 0-1 Rangers


Royal Antwerp VS Glasgow Rangers, guests are favorites

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