Rangers welcome Armenian side Alashkert to Ibrox on Thursday night for their Europa League qualifying final first leg.
Steven Gerrard’s men started their domestic campaign in the best possible way with a 3-0 win over Livingston.
Ianis Hagi sent Rangers on their way with a first half goal. The lead was extended further by Scott Wright, before Kemar Roofe ended the scoring on 90 minutes.
It’s pretty much been all downhill from there for the Gers though. They lost the first leg of their Champions League qualifying semi-final against Swedish club Malmo earlier in the month.
The Swedes went 2-0 up in the game, but a late Steven Davis strike gave the Glasgow club hope in the second leg.
That looked to have done the trick in the return leg, as Alfredo Morelos put the hosts in front at Ibrox. Malmo then went down to 10 men just before halftime, and things were looking good for Rangers.
Perhaps Gerrard’s men got complacent, as they conceded two second half goals in the space of five minutes. They were never able to recover from that, and were knocked out of the Champions League.
That result has seen them land here in Europa League qualifying instead, where they face Armenian champions Alashkert.
Gerrard and his team won’t have had long to find out about the competition, so having this first leg at home will be vital. The Ibrox crowd will no doubt be roaring the boys on come Thursday night.
Below, we’ll preview this Europa League qualifying fixture and provide our predictions, the team news, our recommended bets and more…
Rangers vs Alashkert Predictions
Despite not much being known about Alashkert, it’s safe to assume that Rangers are the classier outfit here. The hosts shouldn’t underestimate their guests though and need to remain professional.
Rangers managed to get their domestic campaign back on track on Friday with a 5-0 win over Dunfermline in the Scottish League Cup last Friday.
They’ve had plenty of rest on the back of that performance and confidence will be high in the Rangers camp again. They’ve set themselves up nicely for another big home performance.
It’s unlikely that they’ll find things so easy in this tie. Nevertheless, they are expected to win and win well.
The target must surely be for Rangers to win this first leg and put the tie beyond all doubt. With that in mind, expect them to come out all guns blazing.
Alfredo Morelos was on the bench in that league cup tie last week. The Colombian international was one of the few positives for Rangers in the game against Malmo, as the club crashed out of the Champions League.
Alashkert were also eliminated from Champions League qualifying. They lost their two-legged tie against Sheriff Tiraspol to enter Europa League qualifying.
They squeezed past FC Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan in the previous round. The first leg ended all square at 0-0 and it took extra time for them to progress to this stage.
The Armenians didn’t start their domestic campaign in the best fashion though. They were beaten 3-0 at home by Ararat-Armenia, so this competition provides a welcome distraction.
Read on for our Rangers vs Alashkert predictions and best bets.
Rangers vs Alashkert Head to Head
Unsurprisingly, this is the first meeting between these two clubs in any competition. Because of that, we don’t have any head to head to go off here. Instead, let’s look at the previous form of these two teams in European competition.
Rangers have a little bit more pedigree in this competition than Thursday’s opponents. Last season, they made it to the Round of 16 in the competition.
They were drawn against Slavia Prague of the Czech Republic and managed to draw 1-1 away in the first leg. That could have been significant, as the away goals rule was still in place, but Rangers lost the tie at home.
It was a night to forget for Rangers at Ibrox. They fell behind after just 14 minutes and things just kept getting worse from there.
In chasing the game, they lost Kemar Roofe and Leon Balogun to effectively kill their European dreams. Slavia Prague scored straight after the second red and put the tie beyond all doubt.
That was the last time Rangers were beaten at home, until their Champions League second leg qualifier with Malmo last week.
Alashkert were knocked out in the first round of Europa League qualifying last season. Interestingly, if they’d managed to get to the qualifying final, they would have faced Rangers.
The Armenians can stop thinking what could have been now, as they have the chance to face the Scottish champions here.
Rangers Team News – W L L L W
Allan McGregor has been Gerrard’s number one for the European clashes so far. There’s no reason to suspect that will change here, especially since the experienced keeper was rested last Friday.
Connor Goldson looks certain to play at centre back for Rangers here. Who partners him in the heart of defence remains in question, but it’s likely to be Leon Balogun.
Steven Davis and Joe Aribo look set to partner one another in midfield again. They could be joined by Scott Arfield or John Lundstram.
Ryan Kent and Ianis Hagi are expected to start either side of Alfredo Morelos in the attacking trio. Kemar Roofe could also feature though, he scored against Dunfermline last time out.
Alashkert Team News – W D D L L
The visitors will want to keep things tight. Can could result in them opting for the 4-5-1 formation that saw them grind out a 0-0 draw away at Kairat Almaty in the last round.
Our Rangers v Alashkert predictions expect Ognjen Cancarevic to start the game in goal for the visitors here. The 31 year old played every minute of the two legs in the last round.
The back four is expected to feature Dejan Boljevic, Didier Boris Kadio, Taron Voskanyan and Tiago Cameta. Those four have been ever present in the defensive line for Alashkert so far this season.
Artak Grigoryan is the most likely to feature in the defensive midfield role. However, if the experienced 33 year old picks up a yellow card in this first leg, he’ll miss the second leg through suspension.
Portuguese forward Jose Embalo bagged a brace in the last qualifying round. He could be set to lead the line here in the hope of snatching something from the game.
Rangers vs Alashkert Betting Tips
It’s no secret that Rangers are the favourites here. Gerrard’s men are priced up at 2/11 in our Rangers v Alashkert match bets.
The draw is priced up at a huge 5/1. That shows that the traders aren’t expecting much fight from the visitors in this first leg.
Even more unlikely it seems, from the odds on offer at least, is an away win. Alashkert are a massive 12/1 just to win this first leg tie in 90 minutes.
We feel Rangers will have too much quality for their visitors here. The match bet odds are not tempting however, so we must scour the markets in search of some value.