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RB Leipzig and Rangers will look to take the next step towards winning the Europa League on Thursday night when they meet in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final.

At a time when Leipzig are in fourth position in the Bundesliga standings, Rangers are in second place in the Scottish Premiership table after recently losing ground to Celtic.

With Rangers looking like they are going to concede the league title to Celtic, there is an argument that Giovanni van Bronckhorst is yet to fully convince since replacing Steven Gerrard in November.

However, having reached this stage of the Europa League and with a Scottish Cup final to come, criticism of the Dutchman lacks substance, and the Gers boss will have every confidence that his players can continue their heroics from earlier in this competition.

Although the success over Borussia Dortmund naturally set the tone, the manner of their victories over Red Star Belgrade and Braga have also been impressive, even if the Glasgow giants took longer than necessary to defeat the Portuguese side – eventually reduced to nine men during extra time – in the second leg of the quarter-finals.

Nevertheless, Rangers head into this contest on a four-match winning streak, a run which includes a victory over Celtic in the last four of the Scottish Cup, and 12 goals have been netted during those fixtures.

That said, with Aaron Ramsey and Kemar Roofe having recently joined a mounting injury list, Van Bronckhorst may have to rely on spirit over quality to stay competitive in this tie ahead of the second leg.

RB Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco during the match on March 2, 2022© Reuters

While Rangers can look to Leipzig’s defeat at home to Union Berlin on Saturday for encouragement, it represented their first loss in 15 games in all competitions.

The trajectory of this team has skyrocketed since the appointment of Domenico Tedesco in December, a total of 16 wins and just three defeats coming from 24 games, and they will have every confidence of ending the campaign with two pieces of silverware, the other potentially coming in the DFB Pokal.

Securing a place in next season’s Champions League is realistically the priority, however, and they hold just a two-point advantage over fifth-placed Freiburg.

Since dropping out of European football’s premier competition after the group stages, Leipzig have impressively come through ties against Real Sociedad and Atalanta BC.

On both occasions, Tedesco’s side won by two goals in the second leg away from home, and those results highlight the quality which Leipzig possess at both ends of the pitch.

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