Instant improvement needed from Rangers
FC Ufa v Rangers
Thursday August 30, 15:00
For the first time since Steven Gerrard took over the reigns at Ibrox his team are being asked to improve defensively following a below-par showing at Fir Park on Sunday. The manager changed formation, playing three at the back, and many fans thought it was the wrong decision, The Steelmen scoring three, including a stoppage-time equaliser.
Two of the goals conceded during that thrill-a-minute draw with Motherwell came from set-pieces and everyone in blue travelling to Russia know the backline must tighten and quickly if they are to hold off the expected onslaught.
Rangers have a 1-0 aggregate lead to protect from the first-leg - Connor Goldson making the difference - but they are 2.962/1 second favourites on the Betfair Exchange to double up, 3.211/5 the draw. Russian Premier League side FC Ufa didn't offer an awful lot in attack during their stay in Glasgow, but they're expected to be far more ambitious in front of their own fans.
The Townspeople set-up on the back of a 2-0 weekend league defeat at home to Zenit St Petersburg, meaning they've won only one of their first five at that level. That doesn't do a lot to inspire punters to back the locals as 2.56/4 favourites.
Boyata returned to score an important goal
Celtic v Suduva
Thursday August 30, 20:00
Celtic go into Sunday's Old Firm Derby at Parkhead above bitter rivals Rangers in the Premiership thanks to a win over Hamilton. Dedryk Boyata returned to the team and scored on 63 minutes to settle what was a nervy afternoon. The Belgian defender - who has made it clear he wants to leave Celtic before the end of the transfer window - put himself in the shop window with the decisive goal.
His current employers got the job done that day, but they were far less impressive last week when ending 1-1 away to Suduva. The Bhoys took the lead inside three minutes - Olivier Ntcham heading home - but were unable to build on that and fell to an Ovidijus Verbickas equaliser 10 minutes later. Two early goals, but the match finished 1-1.
Celtic were expected to put this tie to bed at the first time of asking but must now do a job at home. The Scottish champions have already been eliminated from the Champions League at the qualifying stage, to do the same in the Europa League would prove troublesome.
Punters expect them to win and are happy to overlook last week's draw. The locals are 1.132/15 to bag the desired result, against the 2827/1 of their opponents - 9.28/1 another level finish.