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Aug 10, 2021 at 8pm UK at Ibrox Stadium
1 - 2
Morelos (19')
McGregor (34'), Morelos (51')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Colak (53', 58')
Innocent (41'), Ahmedhodzic (78')
Innocent (45+1')

Preview: Rangers vs. Malmo - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Rangers vs. Malmo - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Rangers and Malmo, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

With last week's last-minute goal giving Rangers a fighting chance of pipping Malmo to a place in the Champions League playoffs, the Scottish champions now welcome their Swedish counterparts to Ibrox on Tuesday.

Both teams will face the full-throated roar of the notorious home support, as the Glasgow giants have been given the go-ahead for a full-capacity fixture.

Match preview

Set for a sell-out clash with Malmo this week - the first full house in Scottish football since their meeting with Bayer Leverkusen back in March 2020, just days before the COVID-19 pandemic shut the sport down - Rangers will be keen to respond to their fans' demands for Champions League qualification.

As they attempt to overcome their third qualifying round first-leg loss at the Eleda Stadion, it is certain that Steven Gerrard's side will need such backing, given their opponents' imperious form in recent times.

Finding themselves with a sudden two-goal deficit when Soren Rieks and Veljko Birmancevic both netted for the Swedish champions - within a matter of seconds in the second half - veteran midfielder Steven Davis rode to the rescue with the last kick of the game.

While his crucial strike sees Rangers back in contention, it still leaves them with a tough task in hand to set up a playoff tie with either Ludogorets or Olympiacos later this month, particularly considering their aura of invincibility has dimmed of late.

Just days after defeat in Sweden, on Saturday, Jamie Robson's goal for Dundee United was enough to condemn Gerrard's side to a first league reverse since losing to Hamilton Academical in March 2020 - a remarkable total of 41 Scottish Premiership matches.

The Light Blues have failed to reach the Champions League proper for over a decade - having suffered serious off-pitch travails in the intervening period, that is perhaps no surprise - and their nerves will not be helped by noting what happened the last time the club reached this stage of the competition. Back in the qualifiers of 2011, it was in fact Malmo who knocked them out.

Current Malmo coach Jon Dahl Tomasson has the club on course for successive titles under his leadership, after they won three of their last four Allsvenskan matches by a cumulative scoreline of 11-0; cruising past Sirius, Degerfors and Mjallby respectively.

Though, in the aftermath of their win over Rangers, they were held to a goalless draw by Halmstad on Saturday, they remain tied on points with Djurgarden at the top of the table, and European progress represents the next target for an upwardly mobile club.

It has been a challenging route they have taken so far, though, as Di Blae only made it through the first two stages last month by virtue of a 2-1 aggregate win against Riga and a hard-fought 2-2 draw in Helsinki, which secured a 3-2 overall victory over HJK.

Former Milan striker Tomasson did not fare well during his introduction to top-tier coaching while in the Netherlands, but has proved able to continue his current club's domestic dominance since taking charge. Nonetheless, the pressure is mounting to realise the fans' dream of a return to Champions League football this term.

In fact, the 1979 European Cup runners-up have not reached the group phase since taking part in a loaded section also featuring Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016, so will be doubly keen to see off Rangers and move within 180 minutes of the promised land.

Rangers Champions League form:
  • L

Rangers form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L

Malmo Champions League form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Malmo form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Team News

Even with returning star Alfredo Morelos back in the first XI, Rangers were ultimately unable to break Dundee United down at the weekend - and only managed a solitary goal after over 90 minutes of trying in Sweden.

As Steven Gerrard's side simply must score, having lost 2-1 last week, Morelos is likely to be retained despite a lack of match-sharpness as a result of his recent spell in quarantine, so Cedric Itten could drop out of the lineup that started at the Eleda Stadion.

Both Kemar Roofe and Finnish midfielder Glen Kamara are still suspended, so are unavailable again, but recent signing Fashion Sakala is poised to play a role at some stage. Leon Balogun also returns to the squad after completing his European ban and Joe Aribo is back from injury.

Ryan Jack, though, has had his return from a calf problem postponed, so Ianis Hagi is a possible option for Gerrard as he chases goals in front of a packed Ibrox.

Jon Dahl Tomasson's Malmo side, meanwhile, could start in their often used 4-2-3-1 formation, but played three at the back on Saturday and have also been known to field a more traditional 4-4-2 when required.

The visitors have only long-term injury victim Ola Toivonen and Danish defender Jonas Knudsen as confirmed absentees, so may even name an unchanged side from that which won the first leg.

Norway forward Jo Inge Berget is therefore likely to join captain Anders Christiansen in supporting Croatian striker Antonio Colak up front.

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Arfield, Davis, Aribo; Wright, Morelos, Kent

Malmo possible starting lineup:
Dahlin; Lewicki, Ahmedhodzic, Nielsen, Moisander; Rieks, Innocent, Birmancevic, Christiansen, Berget; Colak

We say: Rangers 1-1 Malmo (Malmo win 3-2 on aggregate)

A rare blank at the weekend aside, Malmo have started their season with a flood of goals, so there should be plenty of final-third action to get a capacity crowd off their feet on Tuesday night.

As conceding in the first leg will prove less of a concern now that the away goals rule is no more, Malmo can take advantage of natural desperation in the Rangers camp if they do not break through early on. That means a goal on the break could be enough to seal the aggregate win for the Swedes and condemn their hosts to another Europa League campaign.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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