Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes has praised the Ibrox support as “world-class” – but described the Germans’ 3-1 Europa League win in Glasgow as “weird” against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.
Ibrox hosted a full-house in the week before sports across Europe were shut down as the talented Bundesliga outfit stole a march on the Scottish Premiership side.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Rolfes opened up on what he believes is one of the most unique and enthralling atmospheres in world football.
“It was a fantastic atmosphere, no question. The Rangers crowd were world-class,” said Rolfes.
“It was one of the most unique and thrilling atmospheres you can think of.
“But it was also very weird, playing the last game in Europe in front of such a big crowd before the shutdown of sports throughout the world.
“We were coming from Germany, where things were already starting to shutdown and it was almost like we were thinking – what are we doing here with this massive crowd, whilst this virus could be spreading?
“It was a very odd feeling to be honest.”
Whilst the Bundesliga would be the first of the continent’s main leagues to restart, Rangers have been stuck in limbo since the match way back on March 12th.
The Gers have finally got back to action in a friendly tournament in Lyon whilst Leverkusen’s season finished with a 4-2 German Cup Final defeat to Bayern Munich at the beginning of July.
Looking ahead to the second leg of the Europa League last 16 tie – scheduled to take place on the 6th of August at the BayArena – Rolfes expressed Leverkusen’s confidence in progressing.
“The game against Rangers in March really seems like a long time ago,” said Rolfes.
“The world seems to have changed somewhat since that clash back then.
“We fought hard in the Bundesliga, hard in the German Cup final and we will fight hard to win the Europa League title in August.
“First we need to finish our job in the return game against Rangers and I am confident that we will progress to the next round.
“Home advantage has definitely diminished without fans in the stadium.
“But we did our job back in Glasgow in front of a world-class Rangers crowd, so why shouldn’t we get our job done in a clash without any fans at all?
“We need to be focused, confident in our skills and keep our energy levels up and then we can get this done.”
Rangers remain hopeful they can pull off a considerable upset but need to score three goals on the road in order to progress.
The job may well be made easier by reports suggesting Chelsea could move for Leverkusen’s star man Kai Havertz to the tune of £72m in the coming weeks [Guardian].