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Aug 3, 2021 at 6pm UK
Rieks (47'), Birmancevic (49')
Rieks (18'), Moisander (52'), Nielsen (67')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Davis (90+5')
Barisic (38'), Itten (43'), Arfield (70')

Preview: Malmo vs. Rangers - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Malmo vs. Rangers - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Malmo and Rangers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

After starting their title defence with a win at the weekend, Rangers now get their Champions League campaign underway with a testing trip to Swedish champions Malmo on Tuesday.

While the Allsvenskan leaders scraped through to the third qualifying round with narrow wins over Riga and HJK Helsinki, Steven Gerrard's side enter the running at this juncture - just two steps away from the hallowed group stage.

Match preview

Despite boasting a relatively rich European history, Rangers have failed to reach the Champions League proper for over a decade. Having suffered serious off-pitch travails in the intervening period, their absence has undoubtedly been prolonged beyond the worst fears of even the most pessimistic fan.

Now taking their first step on the road back to the big time, a revived Rangers begin their quest for a seat at the continent's top table with a potentially problematic visit to Sweden.

In the build-up to their two-legged meeting with Malmo over the course of the next week, the Gers have certainly been busy giving a fair share of minutes to an increasingly deep first-team squad. Finishing off their pre-season by playing twice in the space of 24 hours - first a goalless draw with Brighton, then a glamorous game against Real Madrid - Steven Gerrard's men boosted both condition and confidence ahead of their defence of the Scottish title.

An impressive 2-1 win against Carlo Ancelotti's Real - featuring a second-half goal from summer signing Fashion Sakala - was then followed by Saturday's Premiership opener against Livingston. With 78% of possession and having led from the eighth minute, Rangers strolled to a regulation 3-0 victory at Ibrox, but are set to face a much sterner test in midweek.

Having given an excellent account of themselves in the Europa League last term, expectations in the camp may justifiably be rising, but precedent does not bode well for the Light Blues. Coincidentally, the last time the Glasgow club reached this stage of the competition in 2011, it was Malmo who knocked them out.

With their visitors' only survivors of that encounter being veteran pair Steven Davis and Allan McGregor, much water has passed under the bridge since something of a battle at the Eleda Stadion. Three men saw red that day, but Malmo will be seeking a more serene occasion this week, as they aim to build on recent domestic dominance.

Head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson - like his opposite number, a renowned former star for club and country - has the club on course for successive titles under his leadership, after they won their last three Allsvenskan matches by a cumulative scoreline of 11-0; cruising past Sirius, Degerfors and Mjallby.

European progress represents the next step for an ambitious outfit, who are embroiled in a battle with Djurgarden at the top of the league, and their front-foot approach is set to cause concern for their fellow light-blues across 180 minutes of combat in the coming days.

Di Blae eked through the first two stages of the qualifiers last month - by virtue of a tight 2-1 aggregate victory over Latvia's Riga and last week's 2-2 draw in Helsinki, which secured a 3-2 overall success versus HJK - so are already up to speed.

In fact, having played 13 domestic games either side of a brief summer break, Malmo are sure to be more match-sharp than their Scottish counterparts, which could prove decisive in the final analysis.

Malmo Champions League form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Malmo form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Rangers form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

After representing Colombia at the Copa America and enjoying a subsequent holiday in his homeland, Alfredo Morelos must continue a spell in quarantine due to COVID-19 regulations and will not feature for Rangers on Tuesday - however, he could yet be involved next week.

Fellow striker Kemar Roofe missed the final two pre-season friendlies but proved his penalty-box potency against Livingston; scoring as a second-half substitute. However, he joins Glen Kamara on the sidelines as they both serve European suspensions, so recently-signed Fashion Sakala should start in Sweden.

Another new recruit, John Lundstram, is in contention for a place in midfield, while Ryan Jack is back in the running following his calf injury, with Steven Gerrard recently confirming that the former Aberdeen winger is nearing full fitness. However, Ianis Hagi limped off at the weekend and is a potential doubt.

The hosts, meanwhile, will be led by captain Anders Christiansen, who netted in both legs of the win over HJK. An influential presence in his advanced midfield role, Christiansen has returned to Malmo in peak form after playing a part in Denmark's rollercoaster journey to the semi-finals of Euro 2020.

Jon Dahl Tomasson's side, who should start in their recently favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, have only long-term injury victim Ola Toivonen as a confirmed absentee following a weekend off from domestic duty.

Versatile Norway international Jo Inge Berget recently returned from injury and is likely to join Christiansen in supporting Croatian striker Antonio Colak up front, while central defender Anel Ahmedhodzic - being watched by several top Serie A teams - will join Franz Brorsson at the heart of Di Blae's defence.

Malmo possible starting lineup:
Dahlin; Lewicki, Ahmedhodzic, Brorsson, Moisander; Innocent, Rakip; Nalic, Christiansen, Berget; Colak

Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Lundstram, Davis, Aribo; Hagi, Sakala, Kent

We say: Malmo 2-2 Rangers

Not only did Rangers demonstrate that they are now back in business in the league last term, but they also impressed on the continent - and can do so again at the Eleda Stadion.

Malmo, though, have started their season with a flurry of goals, so there is likely to be no shortage of final-third action on Tuesday night. Conceding in the first leg should prove less of a concern now that the away goals rule has been scrapped, and a score draw would set up a humdinger at Ibrox next week.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Swedish Allsvenskan Table
1Djurgardens IFDjurgarden20125334171741
2AIK FotbollAIK20125330161441
5IFK NorrkopingNorrkoping20103732211133
8Varbergs BoISVarbergs207672425-127
11IFK GoteborgGoteborg205782429-522
12Halmstads BKHalmstad204971317-421
13Mjallby AIF203981319-618
16Ostersunds FKOstersunds2033141934-1512
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