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

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

The top two sides in Group A who have already qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League will lock horns on Thursday night, as Lyon welcome Rangers to the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Les Gones have only lost one of their last 11 home matches in the competition, while the Gers have failed to win each of their last four European games on the road.

Match preview

Lyon's inconsistent run of form in Ligue 1 continued at the weekend when they played out a 2-2 draw away against Bordeaux.

Strikes from Jason Denayer and Thiago Mendes gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at half time; however, Alberth Elis equalised for the hosts just before the hour mark to ensure the spoils were shared in southwestern France.

That result has seen Peter Bosz's men slip to 12th in the table, but they are only four points behind the top four, with a league game against reigning champions Lille – who sit one place above them in 11th – up next for Les Gones.

While Lyon's domestic form has been underwhelming, their Europa League campaign has been flawless, winning all five games in Group A and scoring 15 goals in the process, more than any other team in this year's competition.

Bosz will now prepare his side for their final group match, which will once again be played behind closed doors, following the unsavoury scenes last month which saw Marseille's Dimitri Payet hit on the head with a bottle thrown from the crowd.

Lyon have won each of their last three meetings against Rangers without conceding, including September's 2-0 win at Ibrox, so they will be confident of maintaining their 100% record in the Europa League on Thursday.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst claimed his fourth win in four games as Rangers manager when his new side secured a routine 3-0 league victory at home against Dundee last weekend.

In-form midfielder Joe Aribo opened the scoring in the 36th minute, before Ryan Sweeney's 55th-minute own goal and a strike from Alfredo Morelos – his 10th of the campaign in all competitions – helped the Gers to their 12th league win this term.

The Scottish Premiership champions remain four points clear of rivals Celtic in second place, as well as nine points above Hearts in third, who they will face in their next league match on Sunday.

Rangers now turn their attention to their final Europa League group game, which has nothing riding on it after they claimed a crucial 2-0 triumph against Sparta Prague last time out to secure second spot in Group A and their place in the last 32.

Gers supporters are now able to attend the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Thursday, having been initially told that they could not travel due to the home side serving a stadium ban. However, as several fans have already cancelled their tickets and accommodation, it remains to be seen how many of the 2,200 away supporters will be in attendance.

Rangers's only previous visit to Lyon in European competition was in the 2007-08 Champions League when they claimed an impressive 3-0 victory, thanks to strikes from Lee McCulloch, Daniel Cousin and DaMarcus Beasley. Van Bronckhorst will be hoping his team can end their group-stage campaign on a high with another three points in midweek.

Lyon Europa League form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

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

Rangers Europa League form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

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

Team News

Lyon centre-backs Sinaly Diomande and Jason Denayer are both ruled out with ankle injuries – the latter forced off before half time at the weekend.

Right-back Leo Dubois is suffering with a hamstring problem, while Lenny Pintor and Jeff Reine-Adelaide are long-term absences with ACL injuries.

As he did against Brondby, Bosz is expected to rotate his starting lineup with qualification for the last 32 already secured, with the likes of Rayan Cherki, Tino Kadewere and Islam Slimani all pushing to start.

As for Rangers, Filip Helander (knee) and Nnamdi Ofoborh (heart condition) remain long-term absentees, while Leon Balogun is close to a full recovery after missing the last four matches due to injury.

Forwards Morelos and Fashion Sakala are both one booking away from a suspension so are unlikely to feature here, with Kemar Roofe set the lead the line up front.

Midfielder Ryan Jack – who has struggled with fitness issues all season – came on as a substitute for the final 17 minutes in the win against Dundee and will be eyeing more minutes in the middle of the pitch.

Lyon possible starting lineup:
Lopes; Gusto, Da Silva, Lukeba, Henrique; Cherki, Caqueret, Keita, Kadewere; Dembele, Slimani

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Patterson, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic; Lundstram, Davis, Kamara; Aribo, Roofe, Hagi

We say: Lyon 1-1 Rangers

The pressure will be off for both Lyon and Rangers when they enter the field of play on Thursday, as their places in the last 32 have already been sealed.

With rotation expected from both teams, a closely-fought encounter could be on the cards at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, which may see the spoils shared.

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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