Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/5
Looking to pick up what could be a crucial first-leg advantage on Thursday night, Rangers will travel to the Estádio Municipal de Braga when they open their Europa League quarter-final run.
Starting with the hosts, while Braga might find themselves almost in Primeira Liga limbo as they appear to be cruising towards another European finish, the Reds really marked their return from the international break with a stellar display. Storming their way to an action-packed 3-2 win against Benfica on home soil, Head Coach Carlos Carvalhal has been filled with praise for his side’s recent displays. Heading into the fortnight break with a 2-1 victory away at Portimonense, the one-time Sheffield Wednesday boss also saw his side pull off somewhat of a Europa League upset last month. Eventually claiming a 3-1 aggregate win against French outfit Monaco, the midweek hosts have lost just one of their last nine matchups across all formats, a run that stems back to February 17th. Potentially smelling the chance to pick up their own first-leg advantage on Thursday night, it should also be noted that Braga are unbeaten in their previous five Europa League contests on home soil, including a 4-2 victory against Ludogorets back in November.
Once again missing out against Benfica last weekend, the trio of Roger Fernandes, Jean Gorby and Sequeira will not feature here.
Bagging four Europa League goals this season, Ricardo Horta could be joined by 22-year-old Abel Ruiz up top.
As for the visitors, marking their return from the international break with an Old Firm defeat at the hands of their bitter rivals, Rangers will be desperate to find an immediate response on foreign soil. Eventually watching Celtic pick up a 2-1 win at Ibrox and extend their lead at the top of the Premiership table to six points, Head Coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst will be glad to turn his approach back to European duties on Thursday night. Eventually coming past Red Star Belgrade thanks to a 4-2 aggregate victory, the Blues also stunned many across Europe as they came past German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund back in February. Although the defending Scottish champions are once again tipped as the underdog here, they will undoubtedly be boosted by their most recent meeting against Braga. When the two sides faced off in the Europa League round of 16 back in 2020, Rangers picked up an eye-catching 4-2 aggregate win, including a 1-0 victory in Portugal.
Missing out on the Old Firm derby after picking up an injury while away on international duties, Rangers are still sweating over the fitness of Alfredo Morelos.
Continuing to impress on Europa League duties this season, former Liverpool starlet Ryan Kent should join Kemar Roofe in attack.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Thursday’s opponents faced off on Europa League duties back in 2020, Rangers picked up a 4-2 aggregate victory.
- Braga have lost just one of their previous nine matchups across all formats, a run that stems back to February 17th.
- Likewise, the Portuguese outfit are unbeaten in their last five Europa League contests on home soil, recording four victories.
- Each of Rangers’ last five contests across all formats have finished with both teams finding the net.
- Braga’s Ricardo Horta has recorded four Europa League strikes in this season’s tournament.
Coming off the back of that 2-1 defeat in the Old Firm last weekend, neutrals from across Europe will be desperate for another enjoyable affair at the Estádio Municipal de Braga on Thursday night. While Rangers might have claimed a 4-2 aggregate win when they last faced off against their Portuguese opposition back in 2020, they will be aware that they face a tough task on foreign soil here. Watching Braga mark their return from March’s international break with an action-packed 3-2 win against Benfica, the Reds have largely impressed over recent months. Unbeaten in each of their last five Europa League contests on home soil, a run highlighted by a 4-2 aggregate victory against Ludogorets last year, we’re backing chances at both ends of the pitch in midweek.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 4/5
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