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Europa League - Football: Defining moment for Rangers

With the Scottish title appearing to be out of reach, Rangers face a season-defining clash on Thursday night when taking on Braga in the Europa League.

The Gers were beaten 2-1 by Celtic on 3rd April - allowing the Bhoys to move six points clear at the top of the table - before going down 1-0 in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie in Braga.

Back-to-back defeats had seen the mood drop within the Scottish outfit's camp, but they promptly returned to form with a 4-0 hammering of St. Mirren and that has helped raise spirits ahead of the second leg at Ibrox on Thursday (20:00 KO).

Elsewhere in the Europa League, Barcelona play host to Eintracht Frankfurt, West Ham travel to Lyon and Atalanta face RB Leipzig at the Gewiss Stadium.

There is also plenty of Europa League Conference action taking place on Thursday, with Leicester's 17:45 clash against PSV kicking off the quarter-final, second-leg action.

Raucous Ibrox to inspire Gers

The recent defeat to Celtic was a big blow to Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who has endured a good tenure since taking charge of Rangers in November last year but has fallen short in a couple huge matches of late.

Of course, there is a chance for redemption on Sunday when the Gers take on the Bhoys in the Scotland FA Cup semi-finals, and they will be hoping to head into that contest on the back of European success.

Although 1-0 down in the tie, Rangers should not fear a Braga side that have found life difficult on the road in Europe and have picked up just one victory from their five away games in this year's competition.

In fact, they have tasted success just three times from their last 10 away Europa League matches and the Portuguese outfit could be in more trouble should Rangers make a strong start on Thursday.

Van Bronckhorst is yet to suffer defeat at home in the Europa League since taking over, having guided the club to victories over Brondby, Sparta Prague and Crvena Zvezda while drawing with Borussia Dortmund.

That draw with BVB, which came after the 4-2 victory in Germany, showed real grit and determination from Rangers and anything close to a repeat of that 2-2 at Ibrox should be enough to see the club reach the semi-final stage of the competition.

However, failure to progress would be another blot on Van Bronckhorst's CV and it would also put even more pressure on Sunday's clash with Celtic.

Rangers are 19/20 to win the second leg in 90 minutes, while the draw is priced at 13/5 and the visitors are 14/5 to triumph again.

One key missing figure for the home side is Alfredo Morelos, who has scored four times in the competition but has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a thigh injury.

Hammer to come down on West Ham's journey

Credit where credit is due, West Ham's run to the quarter-finals of the Europa League deserves huge praise and the job David Moyes is doing is nothing less than fantastic.

The Hammers even managed to knock out Sevilla in the last round, a terrific result given the Spanish club's affinity for this competition, but Thursday is where the fairy tale may end.

Battling for a top-four finish in the Premier League, which looks unlikely now, may be taking its toll on the West Ham squad with just one victory picked up from their last four matches across all competitions.

The Irons have also struggled on the road, losing their last five away games, and it will take another big effort to get the better of Lyon on Thursday.

With the tie level at 1-1, Les Gones will be hoping their stellar home record, which has seen them lose just three of their 20 matches at the Groupama Stadium, will be enough to see them through.

Cameroon international Karl Toko Ekambi could be one to watch out for on Thursday. He is the joint-leading scorer in the Europa League with six goals and is 5/1 to score first in France.

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Barca tie not a done deal

While Barcelona are enjoying a brilliant run under Xavi, it's not guaranteed they will make the semi-finals as they prepare to take on Eintracht Frankfurt at the Camp Nou.

This tie is finely poised at 1-1 and although the Spanish side are on a 15-game unbeaten run across all competitions, they will still need to be at their best to progress.

Frankfurt showcased their skills in the first-leg draw and they have been particularly good on the road, having lost just one of their last nine away assignments.

The Bundesliga outfit have also picked up away victories at Real Betis, Olympiakos and Antwerp in the Europa League this season, and they will be a tough nut to crack.

Barcelona are 1/6 to qualify for the semi-finals, while Frankfurt are 4/1 in the same market.

All to play for in Italy

Atalanta and RB Leipzig are also locked at 1-1 after the first leg and it promises to be an exciting return fixture between the pair at 17:45 on Thursday.

The Serie A outfit have only failed to score in three of their last 15 matches across all competitions, while Leipzig have found the back of the net 14 times from their last five games.

Backing over 2.5 goals, priced at 8/11, could be the smart betting route to go down in this one.

Foxes flying the flag for England

Thursday also brings with it the quarter-final second-leg ties in the Europa Conference League, which includes Leicester's trip to PSV at 17:45.

After the stalemate at the King Power Stadium, everything is still to play for and with there being no away goals rules, extra time and penalties is a distinct possibility.

Leicester are on a four-game unbeaten heading into the contest and they are 11/4 to chalk up a win in normal time, while the draw is priced at 13/5 and PSV are 19/20 to triumph.

Elsewhere in the competition, PAOK Salonika, 2-1 down from the first leg, are at home to Marseille, while Feyenoord travel to Slavia Prague after the thrilling 3-3 in the first meeting.

The final quarter-final tie sees Roma, trailing 2-1, welcome Bodo/Glimt to the Stadio Olimpico.

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