Rangers and Sparta Prague will trade tackles in a make-or-mar UEFA Europa League clash on Thursday. The home side come into the game on the back of a shock 3-1 defeat to Hibernian in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup on home turf. Martin Boyle's first-half hat-trick inspired Hibs into the final.
Sparta suffered a shock 4-0 defeat away to Slovacko in the Czech 1 Liga on Sunday. Four different men got on the scoresheet for the hosts.
Both sides will turn their attention to Europe, where their qualification hopes could rest on the outcome of this game. They have each garnered four points from four matches, although Sparta Prague sit in second spot by virtue of their superior head-to-head record.
Rangers vs Sparta Prague Head-to-Head
The reverse fixture ended in a narrow 1-0 victory for Sparta Prague, with David Hancko scoring the match-winner in the 29th minute. They also met in the first round of the 1991-92 European Cup, when Sparta Prague progressed on away goals after both sides played a 1-1 draw across both legs.
Rangers' defeat to Hibernian halted a run of eight games without defeat in all competitions. Sparta Prague have lost two of their last five matches in all competitions.
Rangers form guide (all competitions): L-W-D-W-D
Sparta Prague form guide (all competitions): L-W-L-D-W
Rangers vs Sparta Prague Team News
Nnamdi Ofoborh and Filip Helander are still ruled out with heart and knee issues respectively. Kemar Roofe is also unavailable due to injury.
Injuries: Kemar Roofe, Filip Helander
Heart issue: Nnamdi Ofoborh
Ondrej Celustka (Achilles tendon), Filip Soucek (knee), Lukas Julis (groin), Højer Nielsen (calf), Matej Polidar and Casper Hojer (calf) have all been ruled out with injuries.
Jakub Pesek is a doubt for the trip to Scotland.
Injuries: Ondrej Celustka, Filip Soucek, Lukas Julis, Højer Nielsen, Matej Polidar, Casper Hojer
Doubtful: Jakub Pesek
Rangers vs Sparta Prague Predicted XI
Rangers Predicted XI (4-3-3): Allan McGregor (GK); Borna Barisic, Leon Balogun, Calvin Bassey, James Tavernier; Joe Aribo, Steven Davis, John Lundstram; Ianis Hagi, Alfredo Morelos, Fashion Sakala
Sparta Prague Predicted XI (3-4-3): Florin Nița (GK); Filip Panak, David Hancko, Lukas Stetina; Tomas Wiesner, David Pavelka, Borek Dockal, Lukas Haraslin; Ladislav Krejci, Martin Minchev, Adam Hlozek
Rangers vs Sparta Prague Prediction
Rangers need a win to move ahead of Sparta Prague on goal difference. However, their preparations for this game have been far from ideal following Steven Gerrard's departure to Aston Villa.
The two sides are likely to go toe-to-toe in search of maximum points owing to the crunch nature of the game. We are backing the home side to secure maximum points with goals to be scored at both ends.
Prediction: Rangers 2-1 Sparta Prague