After winning the first leg at Ibrox last Wednesday, Rangers now must avoid defeat in Switzerland.
First Half Done
Rangers may have lost their opening league game of the season, but they have since won both outings in all competitions.
Through The Gears
After suffering an embarrassing defeat to Kilmarnock on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership season, there was a sense of normal service being resumed just 96 hours later. Service that came in the shape of a Rangers win over Servette.
The first leg of their Champions League Third Qualifying Round tie was contested at Ibrox last Wednesday and although Michael Beale’s men would come out on top by two goals to one, some feel that margin of victory may not be enough.
Although away goals are no longer a factor when it comes to continental competition, Rangers conceding at home is still something that will have caused concern and Chris Bedia’s penalty before the break has certainly kept this tie alive for their Swiss opponents.
A goal ahead come full time, also an additional man on the pitch at the final whistle and with David Douline being given his marching orders just before the hour, Rangers turned down the chance to truly turn the screw.
With more than half an hour still left to play, the ‘Gers only had a single goal advantage in their pocket. 2-1 as the clock ticked to 60 minutes, 2-1 as the clock went past 90 and beyond and the failure to nab a third may well be the Ibrox outfit’s ultimate undoing.
At the same time, manager Michael Beale knows that a draw at the Stade de Genève will see him and his players progress to the next phase of the qualification process – a phase where PSV will likely lie in wait.
Of course, Beale will be fully aware that his cohorts cannot look ahead to a potential trip to Eindhoven just yet. Just as they could not look ahead to a trip to Servette without getting last weekend out of the way.
If there was midweek frustration to be had, it was certainly released on Saturday. Livingston were brushed aside after shipping four unanswered goals and that would have been the perfect confidence booster for Tuesday.
Something that Servette have been lacking at the start of the Swiss Super League. Played four matches and although they are unbeaten, they have also drawn three. A team that is more solid than spectacular.
But now it is time for the first of my two tips. First up, I am going to back Rangers to qualify but they will only manage a draw to get over the line. Both teams scored in the first leg, I am also backing both to score in a stalemate at odds of 15/4.
While in addition to this, I am going to back James Tavernier to break the deadlock. The set-piece specialist achieved this from the penalty spot at Ibrox last week. He is just as comfortable from a free kick, and I am comfortable with backing him at odds of 10/1.