Crvena ZvezdaEuropa LeagueVS
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Rangers are on the crest of a wave after getting the better of Borussia Dortmund in the play-off round of the Europa League, and the feeling must be that, if they can beat BVB, then they can surely beat anyone in this competition.
And they’ll have no fears in facing a Crvena Zvezda side – more commonly known as Red Star Belgrade – who are no world beaters in European competition.
But the Serbians have made a solid return to domestic action after their winter break, winning all four of their games, including a crucial 2-0 derby win over city rivals Partizan Belgrade.
And while their away form in Europe has been good, we just can’t see them getting the better of a Rangers side that don’t lose very often at Ibrox.
With that in mind, let’s get stuck into some expert football betting tips.
Rangers’ season was on the verge of crisis-point after a 3-0 Old Firm defeat to Celtic at the start of February knocked them off top spot in the Scottish Premiership.
But they’ve responded in excellent fashion, going unbeaten in nine games since, winning six of them.
That said, they haven’t been all that reliable when it comes to clean sheets in the Europa League and they’ve conceded six goals in their last five matches in the competition, with just one shutout in that stretch.
That will have Crvena Zvezda feeling confident that they can bag a goal at least, and they have the form to back that up, having scored in each of their last five away games in this competition, including in a 1-1 draw at AC Milan in February 2021.
Rangers will know that the second leg in Belgrade will be incredibly tough, so there’s extra motivation for them to get a result at Ibrox that they can protect the following week. So, our selection here is a Rangers Win and Both Teams to Score, which is available at around 11/4 with LeoVegas.
Rangers and Celtic are neck and neck at the top of the Scottish Premiership, but with Celtic now out of European competition after being dumped out of the Conference League, the Hoops certainly have fewer plates to spin.
But Gio van Bronckhorst’s side are slowly clicking into gear after a bit of a wobble in the New Year. The hallmark of any good side is to win when they aren’t playing well, and while performances haven’t been sparkling from the Gers, they’ve been managing to get the job done.
The Glaswegians have tended to save their best performances for the Europa League, with great away results at Lyon and Dortmund showing they have the mettle to compete with the big boys still left in the competition.
Red Star are certainly not one of those, and with the Ibrox crowd behind them, a home win has to be expected.
At the time of writing, Rangers have no fresh injury or suspension concerns.
Crvena Zvezda remain a bit of an unknown quantity, but they topped a Europa League group containing Braga, Midtjylland and Ludogorets without breaking too much of a sweat.
They weren’t great entertainers, though, with their six matches seeing just ten goals, with Red Star averaging exactly one goal per game.
But they are a side that have plenty of durability and that’s shown in their away record in Europe, which sees them unbeaten in their last seven outings, but against a Rangers side that seem to step things up a notch when playing under the Ibrox lights, we think they’ll be edged out in a close game.
Like their opponents, Crvena Zvezda had into this one with a full-strength squad.
There isn’t a great deal of history between these two, but they have met a couple of times before.
Those two games came during qualifying for the Champions League in 2007, with Nacho Novo’s goal proving decisive as Rangers won 1-0 over two legs.
The iconic Ibrox Stadium is a jewel in the crown of Scottish football stadia and the 50,000-seater always delivers a superb atmosphere on European and domestic matchdays alike.
And Rangers are in superb form there, with just one defeat in their last 20 games on home soil.
There isn’t too much to separate these two sides and we wouldn’t be shocked to see home victories in both legs.
So, the impetus is on Rangers to get some goals in the bank ahead of a trip to the intimidating Serbian capital next week and we think they’ll head into the second leg with a slight numerical advantage.