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Europa League - Football: How far can Gio take Rangers?

Rangers have one foot in the last-16 of the Europa League as Giovanni van Bronckhorst continues to work his magic with the Scottish giants.

The Gers, priced at 33/1 to win the Europa League, stunned Borussia Dortmund to earn a 4-2 win in the first leg of their knockout round tie in Germany last week.

They are 3/1 to pick up another win when they welcome Dortmund to Ibrox on Thursday and are available at 3/10 to progress to the next round.

Dream start for Gers

Goals from James Tavernier, Alfredo Morelos and John Lundstram had the Scottish outfit in dreamland and leading 3-0 until England international Jude Bellingham pulled one back for the hosts.

Dan-Axel Zagadou put through his own net just three minutes after Bellingham had offered Dortmund hope of mounting a comeback to restore Rangers' three-goal advantage, but a fine strike from Raphael Guerreiro saw the first leg end 4-2.

There's still work to be done for the Scottish Premiership side back at Ibrox following the abolition of the away goal rule, however they return to home soil in a much better position than most would have predicted.

Progress clear to see

The result at the Westfalenstadion further reiterates the fine job being done by Van Bronckhorst after stepping in to replace Steven Gerrard in November.

The Dutchman had big shoes to fill, but he seems well up to the task of trying to take the Gers to the next level and building on solid foundations.

Gerrard won the Premiership title in 2020/21 and he led the club to the final of the Scottish League Cup in 2019/20, however, European success was hard to come by.

Rangers went out of the Europa League at the group stage in 2018/19 - Gerrard's first campaign at the helm - and they exited in the round of 16 in the two following seasons.

It's 14 years since Gers have gone further than the last-16 in European competition, granted they spent five years out of Europe during that time, but several managers have failed to challenge on the big stage since Walter Smith took them to the final of the UEFA Cup in 2008.

Van Bronckhorst, who played for the Glasgow-based outfit between 1998 and 2001, knows what the club is about and appears to have the squad all singing from the same hymn sheet.

They have lost just once in 19 games across all competitions since he took the reins in November, suffering a 3-0 loss at arch-rivals Celtic, and they are still in the mix for three trophies.

Celtic sit three points clear of second-placed Rangers at the top of the Premiership and that battle looks set to go down to the wire.

Meanwhile, they are set to take on Dundee in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup and have serious hopes of a deep run in the Europa League.

Haaland blow for Dortmund

Erling Haaland is set to miss out once again for Dortmund, weakening their hopes of turning the tie on its head at Ibrox.

The Norwegian, who is Dortmund's top scorer across all competitions, hasn't featured since the victory over Hoffenheim on 22nd January.

Reports suggested could return for the second-leg but it was confirmed on Wednesday that he hasn't travelled with the squad.

Despite Dortmund clearly being weakened without their star hitman, Van Bronckhorst is refusing to accept that the job is done.

Van Bronckhorst, speaking after the first-leg win said: "We are not through to the next round, which is what we want. We know we have to have a good performance next week as well."

Spanish quartet still in the mix

There's an intriguing tie set to play out in Naples when Napoli play host to Barcelona at 20:00 with the score level at 1-1 after last week's meeting in Spain.

Napoli can be backed at 17/10 to win Thursday's second-leg tie against Barca, who are priced at 4/5 to reach the last-16.

Barcelona dominated for large periods of the first meeting at the Nou Camp, however, a draw was the best they could pick up after Ferran Torres' penalty cancelled out Piotr Zielinski's first-half strike.

Six-time winners Sevilla are back in action at 17:45 when they head to Croatia to face Dinamo Zagreb.

Sevilla, who lead 3-1 after the first leg, are 23/20 to earn another victory over Dinamo, with the Spaniards 5/1 to win the competition for a record seventh time.

Real Betis are riding a four-game winning streak, which included a 3-2 win away to Zenit St Petersburg and they appear to be in the driving seat ahead of the 20:00 return in Spain.

Betis sit third in La Liga and can be backed at 1/7 to reach the next round of the competition.

Meanwhile, Real Sociedad are 4/5 to progress at the expense of RB Leipzig after the two clubs battled to a 2-2 draw in Germany last week.

Champions League dropouts in strong position

Atalanta, FC Porto and Sheriff Tiraspol all entered the Europa League at the knockout round playoff phase after finishing third in their Champions League groups.

Each of those three clubs managed to seal a win in their first-leg ties and they will be eager to complete the job as they seek a last-16 berth.

Atalanta, who hold a 2-1 advantage, are 1/6 to knock out Olympiakos.

Porto also sealed a 2-1 win in their first leg and are priced at 11/5 to make it back-to-back victories when they head to Lazio, while the draw is 5/2.

Sheriff won plenty of admirers for their performances in the Champions League and they boast a 2-0 lead ahead of travelling to Braga, with the Moldovan outfit 1/2 to progress at the expense of the Portuguese.

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