Speaking to the Glasgow Times, Bayer Leverkusen sporting director, Simon Rolfes, has waxed lyrical about Rangers following his club’s visit to Ibrox.

The two sides faced off on 12 March in what was one of the last sporting fixtures to take place in the UK before the nation was locked down amid the global health crisis.

Rangers fans mill around outside Ibrox prior to the game against Bayer Leverkusen in March.
Rangers fans mill around outside Ibrox prior to the game against Bayer Leverkusen in March. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Leverkusen ran out 3-1 winners in the Europa League Round of 32 first leg fixture, but Rolfes was impressed by several aspects of the opposition.

“Rangers were competitive and there was a lot of power from the stadium in a fantastic atmosphere,” he told the Glasgow Times. “They are a good team and were a big challenge for us, but we managed to resist and came to a great mental performance from our team.”

“The players loved to play there and it was the last game in Europe with spectators. The players remember the game and the feeling and the fans singing their songs, and they loved it.

“The big strength of Rangers is their quality as a team, that was what we were aware of. Their team spirit and supporters, their mentality and football culture. We knew about that and were prepared. We had the confidence, though, that we wanted to win in Glasgow.”

Leon Bailey’s late strike secured a 3-1 win for the visitors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Verdict

Many opponents have underestimated the Gers over the last few years, but Rolfes talks about the Glasgow side with great respect here.

Clearly, Leverkusen had noted that strong teams such as Porto, Feyenoord and Braga had succumbed at Ibrox earlier in the season, with a mixture of good football and an intense atmosphere seeing the home side through.

The German club were the first side to win a European game at Ibrox since the appointment of Steven Gerrard, but the first leg scoreline clearly hasn’t made them overconfident.

They deserved the victory on the night but know this tie is technically still alive and are wary of writing Rangers off before finishing the job.

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