Ianis Hagi will have to shine for Rangers to have any chance of pulling off a stunning Europa League comeback against Bayer Leverkusen.
Almost five months after the first leg took place at Ibrox, the Gers will complete their tie against the German club on Thursday evening behind-closed-doors at the BayArena.
Peter Bosz’s side have a sizeable advantage going into the fixture with a 3-1 aggregate lead and the away goals rule very much on their side.
However, the Gers will be hoping to catch their opponents – who haven’t played any competitive or friendly fixtures since the final game of the Bundesliga season on 27 June – out cold.
A 3-0 win for Steven Gerrard’s men against a team who outplayed them at a packed Ibrox in March seems rather far-fetched, but stranger things have happened in football.
Leverkusen showed some defensive frailties at the back end of their domestic season – conceding eight times in their last five matches – so there could be opportunities if the right players get on the ball.
To that end, Ianis Hagi is key for the Gers.
The £3 million summer signing [Scottish Sun] didn’t start the home leg against this opposition during his Ibrox loan spell, but he has shown an ability to produce the spectacular in Europe.
Hagi was the architect of the Round of 32 victory over Braga, scoring twice during a remarkable first-leg comeback and then providing a sublime assist for Ryan Kent’s goal in Portugal.
Not much came off for him at Aberdeen on Saturday, but the two-footed playmaker has the vision and the confidence in his ability to bounce back in Germany.
Rangers go into this game very much as the underdogs but that’s a title they’ve enjoyed during Gerrard’s time at the helm.
If Hagi can get into the game early on and the Gers can score before half-time, anything can happen.