Champions League play-off first-leg predictions: Important night for Ibrox crowd

Jack Ogalbe
Spotlight
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is just one tie away from sending Rangers to the Champions League group stage
Giovanni van Bronckhorst is just one tie away from sending Rangers to the Champions League group stage

There are six more places up for grabs in next week's group stage draw of the Champions League and the first legs of three play-off ties take place on Tuesday.

All three encounters kick-off at 8pm, with Rangers hosting PSV Eindhoven, Dinamo Zagreb heading to Bodo/Glimt and FC Copenhagen taking on Trabzonspor.

Rangers vs PSV Eindhoven (Tuesday, 8pm)

Last season's Europa League finalists Rangers have again been in the thick of the drama this season, coming from 2-0 down to beat Union Saint-Gilloise 3-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

They now host PSV, who needed extra-time to squeeze past Monaco 4-3, and the Gers will again be looking for the Ibrox crowd to play their part in Tuesday's opening leg.

The stats

Rangers haven't qualified for the Champions League group stages since the 2010-11 season when they finished third in a pool that also included Manchester United, Valencia and Bursaspor.

They eventually went out in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, ironically to Tuesday's opponents PSV.

The Boeren were knocked out by Benfica in the following round and are aiming for their first Champions League group stage appearance since 2018-19.

Both clubs have made unbeaten starts, with Rangers beating Livingston, Kilmarnock and St Johnstone, while PSV have beaten Emmen and Go Ahead Eagles.

Home captain James Tavernier has netted seven times across their last five European home games, while the visitors' Joey Veerman has scored three in his last four outings.

James Tavernier was hot in front of goal in last season's Europa League
James Tavernier was hot in front of goal in last season's Europa League

Prediction

European nights at Ibrox are always special and Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side have been inspired on their own patch in recent years.

They have kept clean sheets in their last three outings but may struggle to be as watertight against the Dutch outfit, who have channelled coach Ruud van Nistelrooy's scoring spirit, netting 18 times in five competitive outings.

This can be a blockbuster encounter and could lead to an entertaining share of the spoils heading into next Wednesday's return game.

Bodo/Glimt vs Dinamo Zagreb (Tuesday, 8pm)

Bodo/Glimt have become a name in European football over the last few years and beat eventual winners Roma twice in last season's Europa Conference League.

They have defeated Linfield and Zalgiris to make the play-offs but face their toughest test to date against Dinamo Zagreb.

The stats

This is the second straight season that Bodo/Glimt are aiming for their maiden qualification for the group stages.

In contrast, Dinamo have reached the pool phase on seven previous occasions, most recently in 2019-20.

Tuesday's game will be the first time these two sides have met.

Prediction

Kjetil Knutsen's men will need to make home advantage count on Tuesday but will be confident having beaten Sarpsborg 4-1 on Friday.

Kjetil Knutsen has been going a stellar job at Bodo/Glimt since taking charge in 2018
Kjetil Knutsen has been going a stellar job at Bodo/Glimt since taking charge in 2018

Dinamo secured a huge 4-1 victory over Hajduk Split on the back of last week's 4-2 third qualifying round win over Ludogorets.

They were eliminated at the knockout round play-off stages of last season's Europa League by Sevilla and their greater European experience should give them an advantage.

FC Copenhagen vs Trabzonspor (Tuesday, 8pm)

Danish champions FC Copenhagen host their Turkish counterparts Trabzonspor in Tuesday's final play-off first leg game.

Both make their first appearances in this season's Champions League and appear in contrasting form.

The stats

Copenhagen are hoping to qualify through to the groups for the first time since 2016-17, while their best performance was reaching the last-16 stage in 2010-11.

That was the same season Trabzonspor made their only group stage appearance when they faced Lille, Inter Milan and CSKA Moscow.

Prediction

Again, the Parken crowd will need to play their part if Copenhagen are to take a lead to Turkey but the home side will need to give them more to cheer after going down 3-1 to Randers last time out.

That was the Lions' second defeat in three games and they are still to keep a clean sheet this season.

Meanwhile, the Black Sea Storm beat Hatayspor 1-0 and look to have made themselves stronger after a busy summer.

Trezeguet and Marc Bartra signings have given them extra quality and it could be their night in the Danish capital.

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