Frankfurt v West Ham
West Ham are now four without a win, drawing at home to Burnley before defeats to Chelsea, Frankfurt and Arsenal, though of course they were demanding fixtures and each loss came by a one-goal margin. A win here is a must, but with the away goals rule scrapped this year, the Hammers’ task isn’t as uphill as it could have been.
However, the visitors will have to overcome their away day struggles with six defeats from their seven, and although this included challenging trips to Liverpool, Sevilla, Tottenham and Chelsea, further losses to Southampton and Brentford across this period would suggest not all is well in this department. In fact, the Hammers have only managed two victories domestically away to current top-half teams this season, at Man Utd in the League Cup back in September and at Newcastle on the opening day of the season, losing all eight such fixtures since then.
Whereas David Moyes’ men have suffered eight defeats from 14 matches since the start of March, Frankfurt have only had three losses inflicted upon them from 13 appearances over the same period (W5-D5-L3). Each of those defeats have come across their last six fixtures, but with positive results against the likes of Real Betis, Barcelona and Leipzig over this entire period, they should certainly prove a tough nut to crack.
West Ham do benefit from over 24 hours extra to prepare for this clash with Frankfurt having faced Leverkusen on Monday night, though it shouldn’t prove to be such a huge advantage with Oliver Glasner making eight changes to his team for that clash. Key players Djibril Sow, Daichi Kamada, Almany Toure and Rafael Borre were all omitted from the starting line-up, while star playmaker Filip Kostic was one of three players taken off at half time with this one in mind.
David Moyes kept Michail Antonio and Tomas Soucek on the bench until late on this weekend, though his main concern in recent weeks has been centered on defence. Angelo Ogbonna remains a long-term absentee, but Kurt Zouma and Issa Diop have made swifter progress than expected, with the former returning for the Hammers’ past two outings and the latter returning to the bench last time out. Full-back Ben Johnson missed out against Arsenal with a thigh strain and it remains to be seen if the youngster will recover in time to feature here.
FRANKFURT DRAW NO BET
Rangers v Leipzig
Rangers were resilient in the first leg and effectively nullified Leipzig for long periods, but ultimately slipped to a defeat late on and will hope the atmosphere at Ibrox can propel them to a first European final since finishing runners-up in 2008. They’ve won 12 of 15 matches there under Giovanni van Bronckhorst to date, with just a solitary defeat to their name, as that was inflicted by Old Firm rivals Celtic a month ago.
A weekend stalemate away to the same opponents didn’t help aid the Gers’ title ambitious, with the league now unattainable following that result. However, they did show character to battle back from Jota’s opener and claim a point, with a frenetic final 20 minutes to the game as they went in search for a winner.
Fashion Sakala was the man selected to lead the line and will hope his industrious performance and the equalizer he bagged will be enough to keep his place in the starting line-up here. Giovanni van Bronckhorst surprisingly elected to play without a recognized striker in the first leg against Leipzig, with midfielder Scott Wright and winger Ryan Kent initially fielded as a partnership up top.
Alfredo Morelos and Ianis Hagi remain absent, but Rangers are optimistic that Kemar Roofe could return here to alleviate their lack of a presence in the box. Moreover, they’ll hope Aaron Ramsey could also be on hand to provide some experience and quality in the final third, though his participation is in greater doubt than that of Roofe.
Leipzig head into this fixture off the back of a dispiriting 3-1 defeat away to a Borussia M’gladbach side reduced to 10 men, a result which has pushed them outside the Bundesliga’s top four with just two games to go. Promising centre-back Josko Gvardiol looks set to miss out here after being withdrawn at half time through injury, though Domenico Tedesco does have reinforcements with both Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg and Lukas Klostermann returning to fitness.
Although Leipzig have been much improved since Tedesco came through the door back in December, they do appear to have stuttered at a crucial time, as like Rangers, they also have a domestic cup final to look forward to. Defeats in their last two league games to Union Berlin and Leverkusen would suggest a team that isn’t firing on all cylinders at present. Given Rangers have won four of five unbeaten home games in this competition so far this season, with Dortmund the only team to walk away undefeated at Ibrox, they should prove competitive enough to avoid a loss here, even it doesn’t prove enough to reach the final.
RANGERS DRAW DOUBLE CHANCE
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