Monday, April 22, 2024

Prediction: Rangers vs Benfica

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: Luckster

Looking to extend on their Europa League adventure and collect a heavyweight scalp on Thursday evening, Rangers will welcome Benfica to Ibrox.

Rangers

Starting with the hosts, putting in a famous performance out in Portugal last week as they claimed a first-leg 2-2 stalemate, Rangers find the mood in their camp at a red-hot high. Only continuing to shine since they appointed Philippe Clement back in October, Rangers are riding a major wave of momentum. Picking up some perfect momentum over the weekend as they secured a 2-0 victory away at Hibernian, the Scottish giants are also leading the chase at the top of the Premiership table. Enjoying a stellar purple patch since opening the New Year, the former Monaco boss has seen his squad suffer just a single defeat from any of their previous 14 appearances across all competitions. While Rangers might face another stern examination on Thursday evening, the Blues will be smelling the chance to secure a famous scalp at Ibrox.

Team News

All still dealing with respective injury issues, Rangers will once again be unable to call upon the likes of Abdallah Sima, Kieran Dowell, Danilo and former Norwich star Todd Cantwell. However, returning from his own muscle issue last month, ex-Leeds striker Kemar Roofe will be part of Clement’s squad on Thursday evening.

While Cyriel Dessers men might have failed to find the net in any of his previous four appearances across all competitions, the 29-year-old will spearhead Rangers’ attack at Ibrox. Bagging a first-leg goal in Lisbon last week, Wales international Tom Lawrence will partner Dessers in the final third.

Benfica

As for the visitors, while Benfica might have been tipped as a standout contender to claim a first-leg advantage last week, the Portuguese giants now have a real battle on their hands in Glasgow. Opening March with an infamous display away at historic rivals Porto as they eventually slumped to a 5-0 drumming, Roger Schmidt’s men have struggled to find any real stability over the past month. Although the Eagles might have claimed a domestic boost over the weekend as they secured a 3-1 victory at home against Estoril, the former PSV boss has seen his squad claim just a single victory from any of their previous four appearances across all competitions. With plenty of pressure on their shoulders here, Thursday’s guests will be most concerned by their struggles at the back. Crashing out of the Raca de Portugal last month following a 2-1 defeat against Sporting Lisbon, Benfica have recorded just a pair of clean sheets from any of their previous 10 outings.

Team News

Still dealing with a long-term muscle injury and not making a single appearance across any competition since the end of October, former PSG defender Juan Bernat will once again miss out on Thursday evening. Despite serving a domestic suspension against Estoril over the weekend, former Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi will feature here.

Handed a rest on Sunday night, ex-Real Madrid icon Angel Di Maria will make a full return at Ibrox. Likewise, heavily linked with a move to Premier League heavyweights Manchester United this summer, 19-year-old starlet Joao Neves will feature at the heart of Benfica’s midfield.

Key Factors to Consider

    • When Rangers and Benfica met for their first-leg showdown last week, Thursday’s opponents played out a 2-2 stalemate.
    • Rangers have suffered just a single defeat from any of their previous 14 appearances across all competitions.
    • Benfica have failed to collect a single defeat from any of their previous four appearances on the road.
    • Rangers have won five of their previous six appearances at Ibrox.
    • Eight of Benfica’s last 10 matchups across all formats have finished with both teams finding the net.

    Conclusion

    Claiming an action-packed 2-2 stalemate away in Lisbon last week, Rangers will be desperate to collect a heavyweight Europa League upset on Thursday evening. Suffering just a single loss from any of their previous 14 appearances across all competitions, neutrals will be hoping for another lively affair at Ibrox. It should be noted, with Benfica seeing eight of their last 10 showdowns outside of Lisbon finish with both teams finding the net, we are expecting a similar outcome here.

    Verdict: Both teams to score

    Best Odds: 4/7

    Bookmaker: Luckster

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom has spent the past six years as one of our senior writers and betting experts. Alongside working with numerous publications from across the globe, Tom also graduated from the University of Falmouth in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Digital Media.
    Spending almost the past decade working in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, he has also spent time featuring in sports radio. Tom can be followed on Instagram - @iamtomdunstan

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