Setting the Scene: Ibrox Awaits
Venue: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow
Date: Thursday, 21 September
Barcelona Beatdown: A Deceptive Metric Real Betis faced a harsh 5-0 defeat at the Nou Camp against Barcelona, but using such a result to judge their true calibre can be misleading. On the other side, Rangers’ resilient performance against St Johnstone reveals a side not to be underestimated.
Europa League: A Sanctuary for Rangers? In the wake of Rangers’ stumble during the Champions League play-offs, there’s chatter around Ibrox suggesting the Europa League might be more their speed. Their past run-ins with football giants like Liverpool, Napoli, and Ajax certainly left scars. Yet, while the allure of the Champions League is undeniable, a commendable journey in the Europa League isn’t a bad second.
But Rangers’ victory at McDiarmid Park poses a question. Can they echo the magic of their campaign from two years ago?
Betis in Retrospect Manuel Pellegrini’s troops are no strangers to Glasgow. Their last visit saw a 3-2 defeat against Celtic. However, this is a side that amassed an impressive 16 points in a Europa League group before succumbing to Manchester United.
Pellegrini, a seasoned manager with stints at Manchester City and West Ham United, is navigating his fourth year at the helm of Betis. Yet, challenges like the departure of Luiz Felipe and reliance on free transfers like Hector Bellerin, Isco, and Ayoze Perez have tested him.
Injury Woes and Potential Line-Ups The start of Betis’ season has been marred by injuries, most recently with Rui Silva’s unfortunate exit in Barcelona. But there’s a silver lining: the potential return of veteran Claudio Bravo to the posts and Andres Guardado’s recovery. With stalwarts like William Carvalho and Aitor Ruibal also in contention, Pellegrini won’t be short of options.
However, their defence, which recently saw Marc Bartra and Chadi Riad stepping in, suggests there might be opportunities for Rangers to exploit.
Attacking Threats to Watch For Rangers, the primary concern might lie upfront. The new £6m recruit from Barcelona, Abde Ezzalzouli, paired with the likes of Ayoze Perez and Brazilian winger Luiz Henrique, promises a lethal attacking front. The choice between Willian Jose or Borja Iglesias only adds another dimension to Betis’ forward line.
Conclusion: A Night to Remember? Ibrox has been the backdrop to some of Europe’s most captivating football nights. As Rangers prepare to face Real Betis, fans and pundits alike can’t help but wonder if this Thursday might etch another memorable chapter in that illustrious history.