Rangers vs Maribor
The Europa League battle continues at Ibrox when Rangers host NK Maribor in a highly exciting match between two teams on fantastic runs. Steven Gerrard had to settle for a 1-1 draw away against Aberdeen in the latest fixture when the Premiership in Scotland kicked off last weekend.
Prior to that, Rangers have already been active in Europa League qualifiers and dealt with two Balkan teams in Shkupi from Macedonia and Osijek from Croatia. Throughout the qualifiers, Rangers have remained unbeaten despite not being dominant.
- "They are a Champions League level team and I am aware of their record", says Rangers coach Steven Gerrard about their opponents from Slovenia.
The Scottish side only managed 2 shots in Croatia and survived a scare away against Shkupi. Yet, the intensity and expertise that Steven Gerrard has brought as a coach for this group have played its part. At Ibrox Stadium the Rangers typically plays with confidence and intensity in front of a loud crowd. It goes without saying that this will be their toughest test so far.
The Slovenian side is on an unbeaten run of 15 matches, whereof 13 are clean sheets. This includes pre-season friendlies, domestic matches, and European qualifiers. In other words, it is a very comfortable side who are traveling to Scotland to face their biggest task this season.
The Slovenians started by eliminating Partizani from Albania, followed by Chikhura from Georgia. In fact, Maribor has a convincing record against teams from Scotland, having beaten Hibernians in 2010, Rangers in 2011, Celtic in 2014 and lastly Aberdeen in 2016. The story continues into 2018 when Rangers are the opponents again.
- Maribor have kept a clean sheet in their last 5 matches in the UEFA Europa League.
Coach Darko Milanic has been the manager in Maribor for over 360 matches and is a veteran in these circumstances. Striker Luka Zahovic continues to increase his value after scoring against Chikhura. He is sided by 34-year-old Marcos Tavares who has been a consistent performer in Maribor.
Both key strikers were rested on Sunday when Maribor faced Aluminij in the domestic championship. Also, right back Aleks Philer and central defender Marko Suler were rested in order to be prepared for the clash in Scotland.
It is a squad with international experience and young prospects in their development prime. The combination has been incredibly difficult to stop for any team. Right back Martin Milec (3/0) is out for the visitors.
The difference between these two sides is not enormous. To me, this is a clear fifty-fifty match at Ibrox, but with the Slovenians being more technically gifted individuals. That being said, all the value is on Maribor who are able to match Rangers in defensive and offensive aspects and will certainly look for an away goal or two. Draw no bet on Maribor is the prediction.
Rangers vs Maribor prediction
Maribor Draw no Bet @ 3.25 with Pinnacle