Europa League Tips: In-form Rangers can make it two from two with home win
Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse expects Rangers to beat Lech Poznan at Ibrox and stay top of Group D with Celtic losing in France against Lille...
Europa League football follows what was an exciting midweek of Champions League action and there's no lack of interest for UK fans on Thursday. Both halves of the Old Firm return to action following mixed results last week as Rangers aim to make it two wins from two while Celtic go in search of their first competition points this term.
Neil Lennon takes his struggling Celtic to France where they battle Lille in Group H following defeat at home to AC Milan seven days ago. Steven Gerrard's Gers got off to the perfect start when downing Standard Liege on the road and now host Lech Poznan at Ibrox as they hope to continue their winning run and move into a commanding position in Group D.
Lille enter matchday two of the UEFA Europa League sitting top of the pool with a maximum three points on the board, ahead of AC Milan on goal difference. The French Ligue 1 side kickstarted their challenge with an eye-catching win over Sparta Prague, easing to a 4-1 victory. Turkish midfielder Yusuf Yazici helped himself to a hattrick that evening with the other goal scored by teammate Jonathan Ikone.
LOSC followed that Europa League positive with a draw at Nice in Ligue 1 on Sunday. They fell behind early in the second half but stuck to the plan and fired themselves level courtesy of Burak Yilmaz just shy of the hour. Lille are second in the table after eight games, sitting level on points with PSG thanks to five wins against three draws. They are the only unbeaten team left in the division.
It was a week to forget for everyone connected to Celtic after the champions lost two and drew one in an important three-game run. The Bhoys conceded ground to Old Firm rivals Rangers at Parkhead when Steven Gerrard's Gers bagged a 2-0 victory, the beaten team failing to register a single shot on target. They were then brushed aside by AC Milan in this competition at the same venue, losing 3-1 last week. To make matters worse, Celts stumbled to a 3-3 draw at Pittodrie on Sunday, falling six points behind Rangers.
The Hoops twice went behind against Aberdeen but were able to get themselves level on both occasions. They then took the lead and looked to have snatched the points when Ryan Christie rifled home a penalty with 78 minutes on the clock. There was to be one final twist in the tale, however, Lewis Ferguson netting a stoppage-time equaliser from the spot.
Hosts to take full advantage
Lille head into this clash with confidence high despite drawing at the weekend when having the chance to overtake PSG and go top of the league. They are favourites on the Betfair Sportsbook to return to winning ways with Lille trading at 13/20 which is sure to be popular in midweek accumulators. Celtic are 4/1 to cause an upset and win the game with a draw 31/10.
Lille have scored nine goals in their last three games in all competitions while Celtic have conceded eight in the same period. This match producing over 2.5 goals looks worth a bet at 3/4 or those on the hunt for a bit more can try Lille -1 goal on the handicap against a battered and bruised Celtic at 9/5 (Betfair Sportsbook).
Last week couldn't have gone any better for Rangers as the team reeled off three 2-0 wins in what was the most important seven days for the club this season. They made a mockery of what was expected to be a tough game at Celtic Park, banking all three points thanks to an unlikely double from defender Connor Goldson. The Govan side then took full advantage of Celtic's slip at Aberdeen to defeat Livingston at this venue on Sunday, striker Jermaine Defoe scoring his 300th goal in club football with a sweet finish.
The win over Celtic would have had fans cheering loudest but victory in Belgium against Standard Liege last week was just as impressive. Gers were the underdogs against a well-organised side on a terrific run of form, but they took the lead through a James Tavernier penalty on 19 minutes. Kemar Roofe then scored the most spectacular goal you'll see all season when beating three players and lobbing the goalkeeper from 54.6 yards, the furthest goal ever scored in this competition.
Poznan beaten by Benfica
Lech Poznan began their Europa League group campaign with defeat at home to Benfica, losing by a 4-2 score. The match wasn't quite as clear cut as the bare result suggests, Poznan competitive until conceding a fourth deep into stoppage time. The Polish league runners up scored twice through Swedish striker Mikael Ishak but were undone by an Alfonso Fernandes penalty and Darwin Nunez hattrick, including a decisive winner on 93 minutes.
As a result, Lech Poznan are now joint bottom of the pile and if they lose in Govan against the pool leaders they will be in trouble of dropping off the race for a top-two finish and place in the knockout stages of this competition. The Railwayman arrive in Scotland under pressure to get something out of this match.
Gerrard will rotate his squad
There may just be a few tired legs in the home dressing room, but confidence will keep the players going as the big games continue to come thick and fast. Gerrard showed at the weekend he can successfully rotate his squad and changes are likely again here. Rangers are 11/20 favourites on the Betfair Sportsbook to win this match with Lech Poznan 9/2 and the draw 16/5.
Digging deeper into the stats we see Rangers have kept a clean sheet in each of their last four games with Galatasaray the last team to score against them. That goal came in a 2-1 win for Rangers in the playoffs and was scored with 87 minutes on the clock. Rangers to win to nil is 7/4 or there's 23/20 about under 2.5 goals.