RB Leipzig v Rangers
Live on BT Sport
The semi-finals are here...
Thursday brings the semi-final of the Europa League, and like UEFA's main competition this season, half of the four remaining sides represent British football. Followers of Glasgow Rangers and West Ham United are hoping to party in Seville for the Europa League final. To stand any chance of creating an all-UK decider, both the Gers and the Hammers must bypass tough opposition in the semis, starting with Thursday's first leg.
Rangers return to Germany, where they recorded one of the most impressive results in their recent history when hammering Borussia Dortmund 4-2 back in February. That was an upset for the odds, but it was fully deserved, and the Scots are hungry for more of the same. To get it, they must beat an RB Leipzig side who fancy themselves as good enough to lift the trophy next month.
Read Kevin Hatchard's low down on Leipzig here.
Bulls beaten on Saturday
On Saturday, RB Leipzig were beaten in the Bundesliga when preparing for this match with a surprise 1-2 at home to FC Union Berlin despite starting as the hot favourites. In a result that will give confidence to Thursday's opponents, The Bulls took the lead early in the second half thanks to a goal from Danish attacker Yussuf Poulsen but were undone by strikes for Sven Michel on 86 minutes and a winner just before the end from Kevin Behrens.
The Bulls had more to cheer in the quarter-final of this competition when finding a way past Italian Serie A side Atalanta courtesy of a 3-1 aggregate score, with the bulk of the heavy lifting done in the second leg. Leipzig stumbled to a 1-1 draw at home in the opener before digging out a 2-0 victory on the road. They drew 2-2 at home with Real Sociedad earlier in this competition, then won 3-1 in Spain during the second leg.
10-man Rangers rally
The Rangers Europa League fairytale continues as the club that began its adventure in August with a qualifying win over Alashkert prepare for this semi-final. They are now just two games away from appearing in the final of a European Cup. That is almost unimaginable considering their journey from the bottom league of Scottish football over the last decade. Rangers are back in the big time, and fans are beginning to dream of glory.
The Scottish champions fielded a much-changed side on Saturday afternoon and were made to work for their 3-1 Premiership win by a dogged Motherwell. Gers took the lead on 14 minutes when Scott Wright opened the scoring before defender Leon Balogun was red carded. Well struck an equaliser before the break, but second-half goals from Wright and captain James Tavernier earned the champions a crucial three points.
RB must avoid having to win in Glasgow
RB Leipzig will be aware of the heroics of their opponents in this competition already and will be well-versed on the atmosphere they can expect in Glasgow next week. For that reason, the Bundesliga outfit will be determined to kill this tie off at the earliest opportunity. The Bulls won't want to go to Ibrox needing to win. They are 1.42/5 on the Betfair Exchange for a first-leg victory.
The Rangers story has been remarkable, making the semi-final after joining at the playoff stages and losing each of their first two group matches. They have taken some major scalps under the guidance of former Champions League winner Giovanni van Bronkhorst, and it's not about to finish here. Leipzig's two home draws in the previous rounds push us towards a third level finish at 5.24/1. Plenty will prefer to support another Rangers win at 109/1.
Goals expected in Germany
Both teams have scored in each of Rangers' last three games in all competitions, including a 3-1 home cheer over Sporting Braga at Ibrox in the previous round. They also found the net in Belgrade and Dortmund this year. Both teams have scored in RB Leipzig's last two games, and they also ended 1-1 at home to Atalanta and 2-2 when hosting Sociedad.
Both teams to score looks worth a bet at odds of 2.26/5, and that makes more appeal than backing no in the same market at 1.784/5. Over 2.5 goals can be added to your midweek multiples at 1.768/11, and we expect you to get a run for your money with that one.