Ange will drop into third Euro competition
We have arrived at the final round of fixtures from the Europa League group campaign and the fate of both halves of the Old Firm has already been decided.
Rangers will be playing in the knockout rounds for the third season on the bounce. Celtic drop into the new Europa Conference League, Ange Postecoglou’s third European competition this season after being knocked out of the Champions League and Europa League.
Rangers travel to Lyon with new manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst carrying with him a 100% record in the Scottish Premiership and Europa League. Celtic welcome La Liga side Real Betis to Glasgow, and armchair fans hope to see a repeat performance after the sides served up a seven-goal thriller back in September.
Lyon were pre-competition favourites to win Group A, and a 100% record ensured they lived up to expectations. The Ligue 1 side enter this match with stats of five wins from five, scoring 15 goals and conceding only four. That strong start to their Europa League challenge includes a convincing 2-0 at Ibrox in September. They collected the points that day without ever hitting top gear against an opponent led by Steven Gerrard.
Lyon wrapped up the group with time to spare, and it will be interesting to see how seriously they take this match which is a dead rubber for both teams. OL was last seen travelling to Bordeaux on Sunday where they drew 2-2 as they sank to 12th in the league. Betfair Exchange users find the home win as 1.9520/21 favourite. Another simple win over the Gers will gift backers a shot at bigger odds- Lyon HT/FT is 2.962/1.
GVB has impressed
Not many teams are devastated to see their manager leave, only to replace him with an upgrade, but that’s exactly what happened in Govan. Gerrard left for Aston Villa with former Arsenal and Barcelona player van Bronckhorst returning to the club he played for under Dick Advocaat 20 years ago.
Since becoming manager of Rangers, GVB has played four and won four, beating Sparta Prague 2-0 to secure the runners up spot in Group A. The light blues have also beaten Livingston, Hibs and Dundee, keeping a clean sheet in three of those four games.
Holding on to that 100% record in France won’t be easy, but Rangers fans can back the away win at odds of 3.9. Gio’s men can improve on that 2-0 defeat in Glasgow and have the firepower and formation to trouble their hosts. The draw is 4.03/1 and that looks worth a play.
Drawn alongside Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis meant getting out of Group G was always going to be a tall order for Celtic. The Bhoys have given fans some memorable nights in Europe over the years, but Postecoglou’s men were eliminated from this competition with a game to spare. The home team will finish third, dropping into the new and less popular Conference League, where the schedule is just as busy, but there’s a significant drop in the prize money offered.
Celtic scored a win over Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday to cut league leaders Rangers’ advantage to four points. They looked in fine form when beating the Tangerines 3-0 but face a much tougher challenge on Thursday. The Celtic win is 2.915/8 on the Betfair Exchange with both teams to score 1.564/7.
Betis will finish second
La Liga rates as the Europa League’s most successful competition, and in Real Betis, Spanish football has another contender for the crown. They have already secured their place in the knockout rounds and will finish second in the set behind deserving winners Bayer Leverkusen, regardless of the result in Glasgow. There’s nothing for the visitor’s to fight for here, but they won’t travel just to make up the numbers.
Betis and Celtic put on a show earlier in the group when the Spaniards scored a stunning 4-3 victory. Celtic raced into a 2-0 lead that evening but were 4-2 down at one stage. Betis travel to Glasgow on the back of a jaw-dropping 1-0 win over Barcelona on Saturday, and they are 2.427/5 to win. The draw in this meaningless match is 3.8514/5.