Rangers and Benfica Battle for a Spot in the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Finals

After an exhilarating 2-2 draw in the first leg in Lisbon last week, Rangers and Benfica are set to clash once again, with a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League up for grabs. Rangers’ manager, Philippe Clement, expressed his satisfaction with his team’s “character, solidarity, and personality” in the first leg, and they will need to display those qualities once more if they hope to secure their first-ever head-to-head victory (with three previous draws).

Rangers are currently in excellent form, having lost just one of their last 14 matches in all competitions (with 12 wins and 1 draw). The team will be fueled by the passionate support of the Ibrox crowd, who have witnessed their side put together an impressive nine-match unbeaten run in Europa League home matches (with 7 wins and 2 draws). Moreover, Rangers have never been defeated on their own turf by Portuguese opposition, boasting a record of 8 wins and 3 draws. However, their track record at this stage of the competition is far from perfect, having progressed only once from four previous last-16 ties.

In stark contrast, Benfica has a flawless record at this stage of the Europa League, having won all five of their previous appearances. Although they were left disappointed not to secure a victory in the home leg last Thursday, the Eagles are no strangers to coming from behind, having secured draws in all three previous head-to-head encounters between these teams. Roger Schmidt’s men, therefore, will not be daunted by a trip to Ibrox, as their ability to perform well in European away matches is evidenced by losing just four of their last 22 such fixtures (with 9 wins and 9 draws).

However, Benfica’s recent form raises some concerns, as they have managed just one win in their last four competitive matches (with 1 draw and 2 losses). Additionally, their record on Scottish soil is less than impressive, with just one win, two draws, and three losses. The Eagles’ only previous victory against Scottish opposition away from home dates all the way back to the 1960/61 season.

Players to Watch

Fábio Silva, who previously came through the Benfica youth system, made a significant impact in the first leg by assisting Rangers’ second goal. He followed up with a goal of his own in the Scottish Cup over the weekend. On the other side, Rafa Silva is one of two remaining players from the Benfica squad that faced Rangers in the 2020/21 season. He found the back of the net in a memorable 3-3 draw between the two teams.

Hot Streak

It is worth noting that none of Rangers’ last 17 matches have been goalless at half-time, indicating a consistent attacking threat from the team.

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