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Rangers v Braga (0-1 agg): Helander ruled out for season as Ramsey ready to impress

Filip Helander receives treatment
Centre-back Filip Helander sustained the season-ending foot injury in the first half of Rangers’ 4-0 win over St Mirren on Sunday
Europa League quarter-final: Rangers v Sporting Braga (0-1 agg)
Venue: Ibrox Stadium Date: Thursday, 14 April Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW/online, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Rangers defender Filip Helander will miss the rest of the season due to injury, while Aaron Ramsey aims to “show what I’m capable of” and help the club reach the Europa League last four.

The Scottish champions have a 1-0 deficit when they host Sporting Braga in Thursday’s quarter-final second leg.

Helander suffered a foot injury in Sunday’s win at St Mirren.

Ramsey has also struggled for minutes, and was an unused substitute in Braga, but is “feeling good” for the run-in.

  • Rangers under more pressure in cup – Dalglish
  • Roofe hat-trick as Rangers rout St Mirren

“Obviously we’ve had a bit of a plan for me over the last few weeks,” said the 31-year-old Wales midfielder. “It’s gone along pretty well so hopefully now I can play a part in this game.

“I can still produce the numbers required and what I used to do. There are no issues with that, it’s just about getting that consistency going and getting into a bit of a rhythm. Over the last few weeks I’ve felt better and felt stronger.”

Sweden centre-back Helander, 28, has been restricted to 11 appearances for Rangers in an injury-interrupted season.

“I don’t know yet if he needs surgery but he has a foot injury, an injury he had as well in the other foot, so all I can say now is we are going to make sure he is going to be ready for pre-season next season,” said manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

With Celtic six points ahead in the title race with just five league fixtures to play, Rangers’ next two games are season defining in their quest for silverware.

Braga come to Ibrox on Thursday, with either RB Leipzig or Atalanta awaiting the winners, before the Govan side make the short trip to Hampden on Sunday to face Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

“We’re in the quarter-final of the Europa League so it’s huge for us,” Ramsey, who scored in the league defeat to Celtic earlier this month, added.

“I would love to go all the way and win this competition, as will all the other players and the fans. I’m sure we can make this a special campaign.

“I came here to win. There is pressure on you here. I’ve been in clubs under this kind of pressure before and that’s what I enjoy.”

Team news

Van Bronckhorst hopes midfielder John Lundstram, who went off with a knock against St Mirren on Sunday, will come through training on Wednesday unscathed to be ready for Thursday.

Fellow midfielder Ryan Jack and defender Calvin Bassey missed the trip to Paisley but are back in the squad and available to play.

What did we learn about Braga?

Rangers did not play at their best in Braga, while Carlos Carvalhal’s young team showed their promise in an impressive display and are unfortunate not to be taking a bigger lead to Ibrox.

The Portuguese outfit made it back-to-back 1-0 wins with victory at Vizela on Sunday. Winger Iuri Medeiros’ 10th goal of the season sealed the three points for Braga, who played the second half with 10 men after Vitor Oliveira’s red card.

That result means Braga are nine points clear in fourth spot in the Premeira Liga, with only Benfica, Sporting Lisbon and leaders Porto above them.

Braga are on a four-game winning streak and former Swansea City boss Carvalhal has ordered his players to relish the challenge of a hostile Ibrox atmosphere with a fearless approach.

What did they say?

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “We knew Braga were a very good opponent. We had a result which we can overcome.

“We have prepared well. We know what the task is, we know which areas we can improve, so for us it is just making sure we are playing the way we can, at our top, because you need it at this stage in Europe.”

Braga manager Carlos Carvalhal: “We will not defend when we go to Glasgow, we are a team that plays all the time to try to win, with a big respect to Rangers because they are a very good team, a strong team.

“I am absolutely sure we will play with personality and without any fear. We know it will be difficult, we are sure about that. We will turn the environment and try to make it positive to us for motivation.”

Match stats

  • Rangers midfielder Aaron Ramsey has scored six goals in 12 starts in the Europa League, all for Arsenal between 2018 and 2019 – his last home start in the competition saw him net the opener against Napoli in the quarter-finals in 2018-19.
  • Braga (0.53) and Rangers (0.54) combined for a total expected goals figure of only 1.07 in the first leg, the joint-lowest total in any Europa League match this season along with Monaco vs PSV in November.
  • In the first leg, Rangers failed to direct a single shot on target in a major European game for the first time since November 2009, against Stuttgart in the Champions League.
  • Braga have progressed from their previous nine ties in the Uefa Cup/Europa League when winning the first leg, with eight of those previous nine wins coming in home matches.
  • Braga have played more two-legged major European knockout ties without being eliminated after winning the first leg than any other team in history (10 – nine in the UEFA Cup/Europa League and one in the Cup Winners’ Cup).
  • The first leg was the third meeting between these two sides in Europe, and the first time Rangers were defeated by Braga, having won the previous two meetings in 2019-20.
  • It was also was the ninth time Rangers have been defeated in the first leg of a knockout tie in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, advancing in two of the previous three such instances (vs Maritimo in 2004-05 and Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2006-07).

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