Rangers vs Sparta Prague: Europa League preview, team news, stats, kick-off

Rangers will still be without defender Filip Helander, while Kemar Roofe is a doubt for the visit of Sparta Prague; follow with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 21: New Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst (left) with Director of Football Ross Wilson during a Premier Sports Cup semi-final match between Rangers and Hibernian at Hampden Park, on November 21, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Image: Giovanni van Bronckhorst takes charge of Rangers for the first time

Team news and stats ahead of Rangers vs Sparta Prague in the Europa League group stage on Thursday; kick-off 8pm.

Team news

New Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst says his players will be well prepared for their Europa League showdown with Sparta Prague at Ibrox on Thursday.

The Dutchman, who worked with his squad for the first time on Tuesday, said: "I think they are ready. It's a new start for them as well with me coming in as the new manager. Of course, we are disappointed with the weekend (losing to Hibernian), but all we do is look positively to tomorrow (Thursday).

"They worked hard and they looked fresh and sharp. We are well prepared for the game and will go for a good result because we want to still be in Europe after Christmas."

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Rangers manager Giovanni Van Bronckhorst says improving as a team starts with tightening up at the back

Van Bronckhorst only met his squad for the first time on Tuesday, but he has promised that there will be changes, both in terms of personnel and tactics.

He said: "It's a very short time - only two days to train with the players. But I think they can already sense the things I want to change and what is needed to become successful again. Not only on the pitch, but also the way we behave as a team and the way we have to be prepared mentally.

"You cannot do everything in two days. I need more time. But step by step, I'm sure the players will understand the way I work and the way I want to play.

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"I have certain ways of playing against different systems. But you will see a team tomorrow in the system I like to play. It will be a different system against Prague than it was against Hibs (in the 3-1 defeat on Sunday). You will definitely see some changes."

Rangers will still be without defender Filip Helander (knee) and midfielder Nnamdi Ofoborh (heart condition), while Kemar Roofe is doubtful after picking up a knock while on international duty, which forced him to miss the defeat against Hibernian.

Alfredo Morelos and Fashion Sakala are both one booking away from a suspension, though with this being such an important match for Rangers, the pair are both in contention.

Sparta Prague will be without Lukas Julis (groin), Casper Hojer (calf), Filip Soucek (knee), Matej Polidar (muscle) and Ondrej Celustka (knee) due to injury, while David Moberg Karlsson and Ladislav Krejci are unavailable through illness.

How to follow

Follow Rangers vs Sparta Prague with our dedicated live blog across Sky Sports' digital platforms.

Group A - State of play

Rangers are still in with a chance of qualifying for the knockout round play-offs but cannot qualify directly to the last 16.

The Glasgow club will seal second spot if they win their last two games, with the final group match away at Lyon on December 9.

Opta stats

  • The last time Rangers hosted Sparta Prague for a European match, they won 2-1 in extra-time in the European Cup in October 1991 thanks to two goals from Stuart McCall.
  • Sparta Prague have won six of their last seven UEFA European matches against Scottish opposition (D1), beating Airdrieonians (x2), Heart of Midlothian, Celtic (x2) and Rangers.
  • Including qualifiers, Rangers have only won two of their last 10 European matches (D3 L5), having won nine of their previous 11 beforehand (D2).
  • Sparta Prague have only won three of their last 13 UEFA Europa League matches (D2 L8) but all three have been against Scottish opponents - two against Celtic in November 2020 and once against Rangers on MD2 this season.
  • Only three players - Munas Dubbur (17), Bruno Fernandes (16) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14) - have scored more UEFA Europa League goals since the start of the 2018-19 campaign than Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos (11).

All the key Europa League dates

Round of 16: March 10 & 17 2022
Quarter-finals: April 7 & 14 2022
Semi-finals: April 28 & May 5 2022
Final: May 18 2022 (Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Seville)

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