Rangers travel to Sparta Prague in one of the early Europa League kick offs on Thursday evening.
Steven Gerrard’s men sit bottom of Group A after their defeat to Lyon in the first round of games.
Karl Ekambi put the French side ahead after just 23 minutes and Rangers failed to recover from that point. An own goal from James Tavernier early into the second half ensured the Glasgow club’s defeat.
Sparta Prague had an equally frustrating start to their Europa League campaign. They were held to a 0-0 draw against Brondby, despite dominating in the game.
The defeat to Lyon was Rangers’ only defeat in their last ten games. Their last loss before that came at the hands of Malmo, who knocked them out of Champions League qualifying.
Sparta Prague also failed to qualify for the Champions League. The Czechs were comfortably knocked out by Ligue 1 Monaco.
Confidence will be high in the Rangers camp heading into this game. The Gers are currently sat top of the Scottish Premiership, six points ahead of bitter rivals Celtic.
The hosts have had a good start to their domestic campaign too. Pavel Vrba’s side are just four points off the top in the Czech Republic’s top division.
This promises to be another testing European night for Rangers. Not having the Ibrox crowd behind them could also make things that little bit more difficult.
The Scots need a win to get their campaign off the ground. They don’t want to be chasing the pack come the final game weeks.
Below, we’ll preview this Europa League fixture and provide our predictions, the team news, our recommended bets and more…
Sparta Prague vs Rangers Predictions
Gerrard will want his defence to keep things tight in this game. An early goal for the homeside would make things very tricky indeed for Rangers.
In their last ten games in all competitions, Rangers have conceded just six goals. In that same time frame, they’ve scored 17 goals. So statistically, they’re well on track.
What will be a concern is that Sparta Prague have scored a whopping eight goals in their last two games. They’ve also only conceded three goals in their last five home games in all competitions.
This game represents a chance to exorcise some demons for Rangers. Their last game against Czech opposition came in last year’s Europa League.
Slavia Prague were the opponents that time. Despite drawing in the Czech capital, they were beaten 2-0 at Ibrox in the last 16 of the competition.
Sparta Prague are familiar with Scottish opposition themselves. They were drawn alongside Celtic in the group stages of the Europa League last season.
They beat Celtic 4-1 at home, before repeating that scoreline again to win in Glasgow. Those were Sparta’s only wins in the group and they exited the competition finishing third in the group.
That could be a key piece of form heading into this game. The hosts know what they’re in for and will fancy their chances of winning with the crowd on their side.
A lack of discipline could be something that decides this game. In Rangers’ last four European fixtures, there have been three red cards.
If either side goes down to ten men, they could hand the game to their opponents. It’s set to be a fascinating encounter.
Read on for our Sparta Prague vs Rangers predictions and best bets.
Sparta Prague vs Rangers Head to Head
These two clubs have only met on two previous occasions in their history. The two games were back in 1991 in the European Cup qualifying semi-finals.
Sparta Prague won the first leg at home 1-0. Rangers managed to win the second leg 2-1 at Ibrox, however that meant Sparta progressed on away goals.
As we’ve already mentioned, Rangers’ last clash with a Czech side ended in tears for Gerrard’s men. That could spur them on here, as they visit the capital for the second season in a row.
Having destroyed Celtic in both games in the group stages of this competition last season, Sparta will be confident.
The hosts also have a very strong record against Scottish opposition. Of their eight clashes with clubs from the country, they’ve lost just one, drawing one and winning the other six.
Sparta Prague Team News – W W D D L
The home side are expected to line up with a similar XI that started against Brondby in the first round of games. That would see number one ‘keeper Florin Nita retain his place in net.
Ondrej Celustka and David Hancko are expected to partner each other in the centre of defence. Tomas Wiesner will likely start at right back, but regular left back Matej Polidar is out with injury.
David Pavelka and Michal Sacek are expected to start in the centre of midfield. Regular starter Filip Soucek is out with injury for this one. That could see a change in formation, with Vaclav Drchal being brought into the side.
Jakub Pesek, Adam Hlozek and Lukas Haraslin are all expected to start for the hosts here.
Given the absences in the Sparta Prague team, the home side could go with a 4-2-3-1 formation. That could actually help them to deal with Rangers’ attacking players and style.
Rangers Team News – W W D L W
There’s no new injury news to concern Steven Gerrard ahead of this game. Our Sparta Prague v Rangers predictions expect John McLaughlin to start in goal.
Allan McGregor was in net for the loss to Lyon in the first round of games. The experienced shot stopper could be brought back in by Gerrard here, but McLaughlin has started the last two games.
Connor Goldson and Leon Balogun are expected to partner one another again in defence. James Tavernier is expected to start at right back, with Calvin Bassey at left back.
Gerrard is expected to go with a 4-3-3 formation here. Glen Kamara, John Lundstram and Joe Aribo will make up the midfield trio.
The attacking line will be led by Alfredo Morelos. The Colombian will be flanked by Kemar Roofe and Ianis Hagi.
Sparta Prague vs Rangers Betting Tips
The traders can’t separate these two in the 90 minutes market. The home side are 8/5 in our Sparta Prague v Rangers match bets.
The draw is tentatively priced at 23/10. With both sides playing well, they could easily cancel each other out.
Such is Rangers’ current form that the traders also have them priced at 8/5 to win this game. Gerrard’s men certainly won’t be shy of confidence.
Both sides are in good form and this should be an entertaining clash. Sparta Prague are missing some key players though, and Rangers can take advantage.