UEFA Europa League: Rangers vs Villarreal preview

Things are getting intense in UEFA Europa League Group G, Rangers host Villarreal at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow on Thursday in a match that could decide which of the two teams goes through to the next round. The reverse fixture, played in September, was a spectacular one and it ended 2-2 as Carlos Bacca and Gerard Moreno scored for Villarreal and Scott Arfield and Kyle Lafferty got on the score sheet for the Rangers. That was the third consecutive draw between these two teams, and there have only been three direct matches altogether. Rangers have won just 3 of their 23 European matches against Spanish sides, while Villarreal won 2 out of 7 against Scottish sides.

Rangers will be pushing for a win here, the only result that could give them a significant boost in the race for the top two spots in Group G. The situation in this group is very uncertain, with Villarreal and Spartak Moscow tied on 6 points, Rangers on 5 points and Rapid Wien on 4 points, each of these four teams has a solid chance to qualify at the moment. Last time out Rangers suffered their first defeat in the group stage as they lost 4-3 at Spartak Moscow, and it was quite a blow for them considering that they had a 3-2 lead at half-time. Jamie Murphy and Borna Barisic are the only injury concerns for Steven Gerrard's side.

Villarreal could, in theory, be happy with a draw here, but that would leave them needing a result in their final group match, against Spartak Moscow. Sp far the Spanish side have won just one of their four matches in this group, 5-0 at home against Rapid Wien, the other three matches all ended with draws. Last time out Villarreal snatched a goalless draw in Wien, while in Moscow they drew 3-3 against Spartak. Last week they won 2-1 against Betis in LaLiga, ending a run of four consecutive draws in all competitions. Bruno Soriano and Javi Fuego are injured for the away side, while Manu Trigueros might also miss out.

Probable line-ups:

Rangers: McGregor - Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Flanagan - Coulibaly, Ejaria - Candeias, Arfield, Middleton - Morelos

Villarreal: Fernandez - Miguelon, Bonera, Ruiz, Pedraza - Chukwueze, Fornals, Mori, Sansone - Bacca, Ekambi

My prediction: 1-1 draw, Villarreal will try to keep it quiet and grab a point.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Rangers win - 3.60
Draw - 3.75
Villarreal win - 2.10

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