Glasgow Rangers and Celtic will play three times in one month. Celtic won 2-1 in Ibrox Stadium at the beginning of April after being down 1-0 in the third minute. The Scottish FA Cup semifinal match on April 17th saw a packed Hampden Park and Rangers win in overtime. Carl Starfelt sent Ranger fans in trans, and it was the second Rangers overtime victory in just four days.
While Celtic is running away with the league, Rangers managed to go through to the final four in the UEFA Europa League, and in the Scottish FA Cup they won the last title in 2009.
Fascinating Europa League run
Glasgow Rangers weren’t impressive in the group stage of the Europa League. In Group A, they finished second behind compelling Lyon and Ahead of Sparta and Brondby. The two wins for the Scottish side came against Sparta and Brondby at Ibrox, both 2-0. Nevertheless, they managed to get 8 points with two more draws, one more than Sparta.
Rangers had a tough draw in the knockout round and had to play Borussia Dortmund. In probably their best game of the season, the Rangers won 4-2 in Dortmund. The second leg also offered a spectacular game, and the 2-2 draw was enough to see the Rangers go through to the round of 16.
The Scottish team won convincingly 4-2 on aggregate against Crvena Zvezda. Rangers were in the quarter-finals, where they had to face off with Portuguese side Braga. The first game wasn’t good for the Rangers, and they lost 1-0. In the second leg, it was 2-1 after 90 minutes, and it took extra time and Roofe’s goal in 101minutes to send Rangers through.
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What lays ahead for Glasgow Rangers?
History repeats itself at the end of April. The second quarter-final game happened three days before the Old Firm derby in the FA Cup semi finals. The same case will be with the first semifinal game of the Europa League. The match is scheduled just three days before the league encounter between the Rangers and Celtic.
While such a rough schedule can seem harsh for Rangers, the overtime effort against Braga in the Europa League came before the FA Cup overtime win, and Rangers were unbothered by demanding fixtures. Nevertheless, the schedule is somewhat overwhelming, and we saw left-back Borna Barisic leave the game at the end of regulation against Braga. Still, he eventually started against Celtic only three days later.
The next opponent for Rangers is German side Leipzig, currently the third team on Bundesliga standings behind Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, a familiar foe for Glasgow. However, Red Bull Leipzig is not in contention for the German championship and has a similar situation in domestic competitions.
Leipzig came to the Europa League from Champions League groups because they finished third behind Manchester City and PSG, but they did collect seven points and two wins. The German side ousted Real Sociedad in the play-offs and had secured their place in the semifinals with an excellent second-leg quarter-final game at Atalanta. They won 2-0 and saw three starters picking up yellow cards. Important midfielder Kevin Kampl and defensive backs Willi Orban and Mohamed Simakan will miss the first leg of the semis.
These two teams played previously in a friendly match back in 2017, and Leipzig was convincing 4-0. However, teams are radically different now, and the Rangers can find optimism in their game against Borussia Dortmund.
Another Old-Firm derby
After that crucial semifinal match, the Rangers are set to play another game against their arch-rivals, Celtic. Rangers are six points behind the Celtic in Scottish Premiership, and there are slim hopes they can come on top even with the victory in the derby. The Europa League and FA Cup finals against Hearts could become a priority for Glasgow Rangers.
For fans, however, the Old-Firm Derby is something special, so whatever happens against Red Bull Leipzig, manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst will probably put the best 11 on the field of Celtic Park.
Celtic didn’t go through in European competition and can wait for the game to be rested and focused so that they could put the League title out of reach.
On paper, the upcoming schedule seems too harsh for Rangers, but the best teams are bound to become victims of success on multiple fronts. We doubt anyone in the club is lackluster overplaying such massive games against Leipzig in the European League semi finals and then the Old-Firm derby. Celtic won the previous match 2-1 at the beginning of April, and Rangers went through the FA Cup finals with a 2-1 overtime victory at Hampden Park. The only concern for the upcoming matches is a recent injury to Aaron Ramsey, and we still don’t know the scope of the issue.