Bayer Leverkusen appear to be in complete control of this UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie after a 3-1 first-leg win at Rangers.
• After coming through four qualifying ties, Rangers negotiated their way through a highly competitive Group G in the autumn, finishing runners-up to Porto ahead of Young Boys and Feyenoord. They recovered from going two goals down to beat Braga 3-2 at Ibrox in the first leg of the round of 32 before clinching qualification with a 1-0 win in Portugal.
• Leverkusen entered the UEFA Europa League in the knockout phase after crossing over from the UEFA Champions League, where they finished third in Group D behind Juventus and Atlético Madrid on six points. They were convincing conquerors of 2010/11 winners Porto in the round of 32, winning 2-1 at home and 3-1 away.
• Leading 1-0 through a Kai Havertz penalty after 37 minutes of the first leg in Glasgow, Leverkusen doubled their lead with a 67th-minute Charles Aránguiz half-volley before Rangers reduced the deficit with a header from defender George Edmundson. The final word, however, went to the visitors as Leon Bailey made the final score 3-1 with a measured 88th-minute strike.
• Uniquely among the eight round of 16 ties, Rangers and Leverkusen have been paired before in UEFA competition. They met in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup second round, with the Scottish club prevailing 3-2 on aggregate (2-1 a, 1-1 h) thanks to a goal in each game from Finnish striker Jonatan Johansson.
• While that is Leverkusen’s lone previous experience of Scottish opposition, Rangers have now met German clubs on 46 occasions, including Bayern München in the final of the 1966/67 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, which they lost 1-0 after extra time. The Gers have only won three times in 22 visits to German teams (D8 L11), that 1998 success at Leverkusen the most recent. Since then their record against Bundesliga hosts is D1 L6.
• Rangers’ record in two-legged UEFA ties against German clubs is W7 L9. They were triumphant in the most recent, overcoming Werder Bremen (2-0 h, 0-1 a) in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 16 en route to that season’s final.
• Fourth in last season’s Bundesliga, Leverkusen thus entered the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 12th time. In their 2018/19 European campaign they were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League round of 32 by Krasnodar after topping a group featuring Ludogorets, FC Zürich and AEK Larnaca.
• The German club’s bid to reach this season’s UEFA Champions League round of 16 was scuppered by defeats in their opening three matches – 1-2 at home to Lokomotiv Moskva, 0-3 at Juventus and 0-1 at Atlético Madrid – and although they rallied to beat Lokomotiv away (2-0) and Atlético at home (2-1), a home defeat by Juve on Matchday 6 (0-2) left them in third place.
•.Victory over Porto last month put Leverkusen into the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time, but they have never made it beyond this stage, going out in both previous ties to Villarreal, in 2010/11 (2-3 h, 1-2 a) and 2015/16 (0-2 a, 0-0 h). They were, however, successful UEFA Cup round of 16 participants in 2006/07 and 2007/08, winning both ties – the first against Lens (1-2 a, 3-0 h), the second, on away goals, against Hamburg (1-0 h, 2-3 a) – before exiting in the quarter-finals.
• The Werkself have drawn seven of their last 16 European home games (W6 L3). In the UEFA Europa League they are unbeaten in seven matches at the BayArena (W4 D3), since a 0-1 defeat by Benfica in the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32, and have an overall home record in the competition, play-offs included, of W10 D5 L2.
• Leverkusen have won eight of the nine UEFA ties when they have won the first leg away, most recently against Sporting CP in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (1-0 a, 3-1 h). They have never previously won the first away leg 3-1.
• Rangers qualified for 2019/20 European competition as runners-up to Celtic in last season’s Scottish Premiership. They also won four qualifying ties to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time, but just one win and six points prevented them from making further progress.
• Once again Rangers were obliged to come through four qualifiers to reach this season’s group stage, going undefeated in knocking out St Joseph’s, Progrès Niederkorn, Midtjylland and Legia Warszawa. In Group G they beat Feyenoord and Porto at home and drew with both sides away but lost to a late winner at Young Boys before securing their qualification at the Swiss side’s expense with a 1-1 draw at Ibrox on Matchday 6. Subsequent home and away wins against Braga, coupled with Celtic’s round of 32 elimination by Copenhagen, have left them as Scotland’s longest surviving European representatives for the first time in nine years.
• The Gers’ only previous UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie, in that 2010/11 season, ended in elimination by PSV Eindhoven (0-0 a, 0-1 h), though, like Leverkusen, they did reach successive UEFA Cup last-16 ties in 2006/07 and 2007/08, losing the first, to Osasuna (1-1 h, 0-1 a), and winning the second, against Bremen.
• Rangers’ victory in Braga last month was their first on the road in the UEFA Europa League proper (D5 L3), though they had drawn both of their previous two away fixtures in the group stage. They are unbeaten away from home in their last five UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League knockout phase fixtures (W2 D3).
• Rangers have never recovered to win a UEFA tie after losing the first leg at home, suffering elimination on all five occasions, most recently in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round against Malmö (0-1 h, 1-1 a). Their only previous 1-3 first-leg defeat at Ibrox was also against German opposition, Bayern beating them by that scoreline in the first round of the 1989/90 European Cup before a second-leg 0-0 draw.
Links and trivia
• Lukas Hradecky (Leverkusen) and Glen Kamara (Rangers) are international team-mates for Finland.
• This is the only tie in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 between two clubs that have previously won a major UEFA competition, Rangers lifting the 1971/72 European Cup Winners’ Cup and Leverkusen the 1987/88 UEFA Cup.
• While Rangers have won a record 54 Scottish league titles, Leverkusen have never been crowned champions of Germany.
• Alfredo Morelos, Rangers’ Colombian striker, was the top scorer in this season’s UEFA Europa League qualifying phase with eight goals, and the group stage with six. He has yet to score in the knockout phase.
• Rangers manager Steven Gerrard skippered Liverpool to back-to-back 3-1 wins against Leverkusen in the last 16 of the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League – en route to lifting the trophy in Istanbul. He had tasted defeat against the same opponents three years earlier as Leverkusen eliminated Liverpool in the quarter-finals (0-1 a, 4-2 h).
• Rangers are the only club to have reached this season’s round of 16 after beginning their UEFA Europa League journey in the first qualifying round.
• Leverkusen are one of four UEFA Champions League group stage participants to have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16, along with Internazionale, Olympiacos and Shakhtar Donetsk.
• Leverkusen’s record in three UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2:
3-2 v Espanyol, 1987/88 UEFA Cup final
3-5 v Tirol Innsbruck, 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup quarter-final
2-3 v Atlético Madrid, 2014/15 UEFA Champions League round of 16
• Rangers’ record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W3 L1:
1-3 v Borussia Dortmund, 1999/2000 UEFA Cup third round
4-3 v Paris Saint-Germain, 2001/02 UEFA Cup third round
4-2 v Marítimo, 2004/05 UEFA Cup first round
4-2 v Fiorentina, 2007/08 UEFA Cup sem-final
• A Dutch champion and three-time domestic cup winner with Feyenoord in the 1990s, Peter Bosz’s eventful coaching career, which began in earnest at De Graafschap in 2002, peaked when he led Ajax to the final of the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League. The former Oranje midfielder spent just that one season in Amsterdam, subsequently replacing Thomas Tuchel at Borussia Dortmund, where his reign lasted only six months. After a year’s absence he returned to the Bundesliga to coach Bayer Leverkusen in December 2018 and succeeded in qualifying the Werkself for the UEFA Champions League.
• A Liverpool legend with 186 goals in 710 appearances for the Anfield club, most of them as captain, Gerrard launched his managerial career at Glasgow giants Rangers in May 2018. An England international for 14 years, accumulating 114 caps and 21 goals, the dynamic midfielder won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Liverpool as well as both domestic cups. After an 18-month end-of-career spell with LA Galaxy he returned to coach Liverpool’s youth team before the job at Ibrox lured him to Scotland, where he led the Gers to second place in the 2018/19 Premiership.