Europa League Betting: Celtic can relax but Rangers have their work cut out at Feyenoord
The Old Firm are in Europa League action on Thursday but it's Rangers in need of points. Frankie Monkhouse previews...
All to play for in Group G
It's the penultimate matches of this season's Europa League group stages and there's still plenty to play for across the board. A number of the pools remain competitive, including Group G where just three points separates Rangers, Young Boys, Feyenoord and Porto. The Bears head to Holland hoping to join rivals Celtic in the next round.
The Scottish champions welcome Rennes to town but have already qualified from Group E and will be involved in European football after Christmas. Great news for Neil Lennon and his Bhoys. It's now between the Hoops and rivals Cluj for top spot with just a point separating the teams at present.
Final roll of the dice for Feyenoord
Feyenoord v Rangers Thursday, 17:55 Live on BT Sport
Feyenoord were hot favourites to win Group G and progress to the knockout stages of the Europa League, but they have found life tough since this competition began. The Dutch league bronze medallists lost 1-0 at Ibrox in their opening game and head into round five with stats showing one win, one draw and two defeats. They have four points on the board and sit third, three off the pace set by Young Boys and Rangers, above bottom place Porto on goal difference.
The Pride of South called an emergency meeting on the back of a run of poor results and decided to send out an SOS to experienced manager Dick Advocaat who now sits in the hot seat. It's surely a short-term appointment but is he the man to turn things around? Could the former Rangers gaffer lead his new recruits to a revenge win over Gers? The betting suggests so and the home cheer is 2.56 favourite on the Exchange.
Rangers have a real chance
Having taken four points from back-to-back games against Porto, Rangers are now in a fantastic position to progress from the group and enter knockout European football for the first time under Steven Gerrard. If they did achieve that it would be nothing short of what the players and coaching staff deserved, having started at the first qualifying round. Gers travel to Feyenoord on Thursday before signing off with a home tie against Young Boys on 12 December. The latter comes four days after the Old Firm League Cup final.
Ideally, Gerrard and his battlers would have already secured their place in the next round, allowing them to focus on that massive match at Hampden on Sunday 8 December. They'll head to De Kuip fully confident in their ability to get something from this match, however, having already beaten Feyenoord at Ibrox and drawn with Porto on the road. There has been no great rush to write Rangers off here and they are available for the win at 2.86, but I fancy the draw at a tempting 3.60.
Celtic can carry on unbeaten start
Celtic v Rennes Thursday, 20:00 Live on BT Sport
An unbeaten start consisting of three wins and one draw has Celtic on 10 points, seven better than Lazio in third. The Scottish champions will be playing Europa League knockout football in the new year and that has helped take the sting out of being eliminated from the Champions League at the qualifying stage. The locals beat Lazio home and away and now set their sights on progressing as winner of pool E.
Celtic have won each of their last three Europa League matches and will now walk out in front of a capacity Parkhead against the bottom ranked side in the division who arrive on the back of three losses. Win this and you would imagine Neil Lennon's troops will go on to clinch the group. That's exactly what's expected of them and the home cheer is 1.63 favourite on the Exchange.
Rennes have lost their last three
French club Rennes finished 10th in Ligue 1 last season. Europa League football has proven to be either out of their comfort zone or an unwanted distraction. The Red and Blacks, managed by Julien Stephan, have drawn one and lost three of their matches in UEFA's second-string competition so far, scoring two goals and conceding three. They took a point from their opening match at home but went on to lose each of their next three and are rooted to the foot of the table, two behind Lazio in third and nine off the pace set by their opponents.
Interestingly, the spare draw on Rennes' CV came against Celtic at Roazhon Park on 19 September. The hosts took the lead that evening through a M'Baye Niang penalty on 37 minutes, but The Hoops secured a deserved point thanks to a Ryan Christie leveller on the hour mark, that goal also coming from the penalty spot. Vakoun Bayo was shown a red card in stoppage time when picking up a second yellow in what was an entertaining match from start to finish. Another draw is 4.40 on the Betfair Exchange, where you'll find the away day written off as a 5.70 option.