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1600 Lincoln Red Imps v Rangers

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Lincoln Red Imps 30/1 v Rangers 1/20 - Victoria Stadium (Gibraltar)

On the scale of things, this should be a very dull an uninteresting game, as "semi-professional" side Lincoln take on the might and fury of Rangers at their home ground in Gibraltar. Rangers have reached the group stage of the competition for the past two seasons in a row, reaching the last 16 last season. But they'll enter the unknown with one-off matches, in which, let's face it, fuckin anything can happen. A trip to Willem II awaits the victor - after the Dutch side hammered Progres Niederkorn 5-0.

"If you think because we are Rangers we can just win the game it won't work," Gerrard said. "We have to match the application and desire and then let our quality players go and win the game. "We cannot drop our standards. If we play with our hunger and desire, being strong at the back and attacking we can get the result." Rangers won in the Principality's Victoria Stadium in last season's first qualifying round, beating St Joseph's 4-0 before scoring six in the second leg.  That set the Ibrox side on their way to a run to the last 16, where they were knocked out by Bayer Leverkusen. Should they beat Red Imps, Rangers would need to win two more one-off ties to reach the group stage, with Willem II in the Netherlands followed by a potentially daunting meeting with a seeded team in the play-off round.

Having caused Celtic an almighty scare in a previous Champions League meeting, the Gibraltar club are now after their arch-rivals. Lincoln Red Imps coach William Amaral has revealed his admiration for Steven Gerrard, even as he plots to take yet another Scottish scalp. Lincoln caused a huge upset in 2016 when they beat Celtic 1-0 in the second round of Champions League qualifying. It proved to be a momentary scare for the Glasgow side, then managed by Brendan Rodgers, who prevailed 3-0 in the second leg; but the win is still remembered fondly by the Red Imps, who have dominated football on the tiny British Overseas Territory in recent years. 

Now they have Rangers in their sights as the teams meet and Amaral is determined to cause a similar upset - even if he has great respect for Rangers and their distinguished boss.  “We know we’re playing against the best team in Scotland, against the best manager in Scotland," (ROFL) the Brazilian told reporters prior to Thursday's clash. “They are ranked first in the league with a record of no goals conceded. We know who we’re facing. For Gibraltar, it’s a massive game. “But it’s just one leg so we have a very good chance. We need to show a lot of courage and be motivated. "This is why football is special - moments like this when a big team plays a small team. “The small team can do it with courage and passion. These things do happen when small teams beat the big one. The coverage the team gets through the media.”

Rangers chose the unlikely setting of a luxury 'super yacht' as their pre-game base in Gibraltar, but while Gerrard is enjoying his stay he and his charges are focused on leaving the Rock with a victory. “It’s beautiful surroundings, a very unique stadium, and there’s no excuses for us in terms of the size of the stadium or playing on astroturf, it’s something we should be accustomed to now because we have quite a few domestically," Gerrard explained. “We’re here to do a job and be professional. I want the players to really show a strong mentality. We’ve had two excellent runs in this competition in the last two seasons and you have to come places like this in qualifying and get over the line. “There’s enough experience in my squad to realise that if we think we can just turn up here and not approach it right or show the right attitude and let our standards drop then the game will be complicated."

Alfredo Morelos is available after suffering a gash in his knee in Saturday's win over Dundee United, while fellow forward Jermain Defoe and goalkeeper Allan McGregor have both travelled, too. However, Gerrard confirmed that midfielder Ryan Jack will miss "a few weeks" with a calf problem, and that winger Brandon Barker faces a shorter spell out with a hamstring injury. Defenders Leon Balogun (thigh) and Nikola Katic (knee) and midfielder Joe Aribo (ankle) are also unavailable.

LRI shocked Celtic 1-0 and finished third in the Gibraltar top flight last season. Their domestic campaign has yet to start this term but, in the Europa League, they were awarded a 3-0 preliminary round win after Prishtina failed to turn up for the tie, a week after it was initially postponed when eight of the Kosovan side's players tested positive for Covid-19 Red Imps then recorded a 2-0 win over Union Titus of Luxembourg in the second round. Rangers squad for Lincoln Red Imps: Allan McGregor, Jon McLaughlin, Andrew Firth, James Tavernier, Calvin Bassey, George Edmundson, Filip Helander, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic, Ianis Hagi, Steven Davis, Ryan Kent, Glen Kamara, Greg Stewart, Scott Arfield, Jermain Defoe, Cedric Itten, Alfredo Morelos, Jordan Jones, Kemar Roofe

Betting wise, it's again another tough one. Do you believe LRI can produce another shocker against a top flight SPFL side? or do the level headed minds prevail and say Rangers will continue their to nil victories against a semi professional side that hasnt achieved much? Hard to say, especially in a one-off cup game in essence. Rangers have a few players out on injury, but their traveling squad should be more than enough to handle this side on paper. Of course the bookies see it that way as well with Rangers trading at 1/20 to win. LRI results show that they arnt scared to score goals, with multiple victories of 5+ goals, however, this is in the Gibralter league so the results do need to be taken with caution. Either way, with the history surrounding this side and Scottish teams, Im hoping it will be an interesting game as a neutral to watch. I dont have any big opinion on any recommended bets as the odds available are non existant, so for the sake of a line, has to be a small stake multi: Rangers to win 3-1 and Hagi to score anytime at 25/1 seems fairly decent.

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Well, pretty disappointing game in the end. Rangers keep their perfect record of to nil results so far this season. Dont know what these managers of lesser opposition are doing though. LRI had no drive, no desire or no interest in getting forward for the majority of the game. Im really getting sick of this lets just 11 man defend and hope to catch on the break sort of football. Dont get me wrong, I understand teams like LRI cant really keep up toe to toe for 90 minutes but fuck me, why even bother turning up if you're not going to change anything when you're behind. Its a one match knock out for fuck sake. LRI could have easily changed the result of this game if they took their one chance just after half time and made it 1-2. Still not sure how he managed to miss. Patterson was woeful at the back for Rangers and seemed a real danger of letting the Rangers defense down. That could have been pounced on, but LRI decided not to press that weakness. Good performance by Rangers anyway.

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