Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men are 90 minutes and a two-goal win away from a Europa League semi-final. Such a result, backed by a partisan crowd, will be a huge boost going into the Scottish Cup semi-final with Celtic on Sunday.
There will be plenty of intrigue around Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s line-up for this crucial clash.
The Dutchman came in for criticism in the first-leg when neither Steven Davis or Aaron Ramsey were used at all in Portugal as the team lost 1-0.
At the weekend, as Rangers ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, there were starts for Ramsey in midfield, as well as Borna Barisic and Filip Helander in defence, while Kemar Roofe netted a hat-trick.
The striker has proven his quality in a Rangers jersey but perhaps not as consistently as fans would have liked, not helped by injury issues. But he is more than capable of producing in big moments.
It is almost certain he will lead the line ahead of Fashion Sakala who was much more of a counter-attacking threat in Portugal as the central striker.
Rangers will be expected to take the game to Braga right from the start. When the team play at Ibrox in Europe there is an intensity, supported by a raucous home crowd, which lifts the team.
Roofe will be flanked by Ryan Kent and most likely Joe Aribo, even if the Nigerian hasn’t been at his best and struggled in the first-leg but did find the net with a brilliant strike against St Mirren.
Having Aribo as a wide forward would allow Van Bronckhorst to get Ramsey into the team as the most forward thinking midfielder in front of Ryan Jack and John Lundstram. The Welshman has shown that box-breaking quality already in a Rangers shirt and has spoken of coming to the club to play in these big games.
The Ibrox boss is hopeful Lundstram will be available. The Englishman has been a valuable player at the base of the midfield, providing a platform and physicality and recycles possession well.
If he doesn’t make it in the starting line-up it will be a big blow for the team and could see Ryan Jack take more of a sitting role with either Steven Davis or Glen Kamara, even if the latter’s influence has waned under Van Bronckhorst.
There are a couple of defensive questions which require answering.
Filip Helander is out for the rest of the season after suffering an injury against St Mirren. It would be a surprise if Leon King, a hugely talented youngster, takes his place for such a big game. More likely it will be Leon Balogun, who didn’t feature against the Buddies, or Calvin Bassey who is available.
Van Bronckhorst started Borna Barisic on Sunday and the Croatian possesses a very good cross which could come in use if Rangers enjoy plenty of territory higher up the park.
Predicted Rangers XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Bassey; Lundstram, Jack, Ramsey; Aribo, Roofe, Kent.
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