Former Scotland striker Charlie Nicholas has tipped Rangers to take a lead with them to Portugal for the away leg of their Europa League last 32 tie against Braga.
The Sky Sports pundit has backed Steven Gerrard’s side to win 2-1 at Ibrox in Thursday night’s first leg and he also feels that top scorer Alfredo Morelos will “thrive” against the Portuguese outfit despite scoring just once so far in 2020.
In his prediction for the game on Sky Sports, Nicholas said: “Rangers have been disappointing to say the least since returning from the winter break. They got over the line against Livingston, but the big thing that is giving Steven Gerrard issues is the pitch. The storm means the grass will be a struggle to play on, so it will be an in-your-face traditional aggressive style of play that will be thrown at the Portuguese. Braga will handle this well, but these sides are always suspect when travelling away from home. They are tidy but you can rough them up.
“Alfredo Morelos has been quiet since coming back, not only in terms of goals but in relation to incidents and cards too. These are the types of games which Morelos will thrive in. They beat Porto and have beaten better teams than this, so I expect them to go and win this. It will be a tense affair but a powerful and aggressive performance will ensure Rangers pick up the win.”
Nicholas makes some valid points in relation to Morelos, who has netted just once in his last seven matches in all competitions but has thrived on the European stage this season with 14 goals in continental action in 2019/20. He was the top scorer in the group stage of the tournament with six goals, scoring in five of the Light Blues’ six games in Group G. Despite his fantastic European record, though, the Colombian goes into this tie on a barren run of form.
Nicholas also seems to be underestimating the threat that Braga could pose to Rangers. His statement that teams such as the Portuguese outfit are “always suspect when travelling away from home” is in stark contrast to Braga’s record on the road in Europe, with Ruben Amorim’s side winning all three of their away group games. They also enter the tie in magnificent form, winning nine and drawing one of their last 10 games, a run which included victory in the final of the Allianz Cup (Portugal’s equivalent of the Betfred Cup) against Porto. By contrast, as Nicholas has outlined, Rangers have been erratic in recent weeks, with two defeats and a draw from their last six Premiership games.
The ‘Gers have already beaten Portuguese opposition at Ibrox this season, with Porto vanquished in the group stage, but they came into that game in much better form than they are showing now. All things considered, Nicholas seems to be taking Braga a bit lightly when reading into his wrongful dismissal of their away form in Europe. The Light Blues faithful will likely hope that Gerrard is more attentive of the threat that the Portuguese side can pose.
Rangers fans, do you agree with Nicholas’ prediction for the game against Braga? Can you see Morelos scoring on Thursday? Comment below with your views!
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