Rangers vs Ajax predictions: Bronckhorst's side desperate to avoid wooden spoon
- Rangers have conceded 19 goals in the group
- Ajax put four goals past the Gers on matchday one
- Recommended bet: Ajax to score over 2.5 goals
The Group A fates of Rangers and Ajax may be all but decided with one game to play, but there remains plenty of Champions League pride at stake when the sides clash at Ibrox on Tuesday night.
Ajax's campaign began in ideal fashion with a thumping win over the Scottish side in Amsterdam, but the domination of Napoli and Liverpool has thrown the Dutch off course ever since.
They look set to join the Europa League play-off round unless Rangers can pull off the unlikeliest of routs.
Any kind of positive result for Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his charges will turn the tables on a torrid European campaign that leaves setting a new tournament record for the worst-ever group stage performance a genuine possibility.
Rangers will not be able to call on suspended central midfielder John Lundstram, with Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz also set to miss out in defence having each been taken off in Saturday's win over Aberdeen. Midfielder Glen Kamara is set to return to the squad.
Ajax coach Alfred Schreuder has only the long-term absentee Ahmetcan Kaplan unavailable. The midfielder has missed the entirety of the season with a knee injury.
Hosts Rangers have toiled both at home and away and have no points to their name, netting just one goal over their five defeats in the competition.
Scott Arfield's strike in the 7-1 demolition at the hands of Liverpool on matchday four has done little to counteract the mammoth 19 goals the Gers have conceded on their European jaunt.
As such, the visit of Ajax gives them one final chance to improve their goal difference of -18, which sees them teeter precariously above Dinamo Zagreb's tally of -19 from 2011/12 in the record books.
Viktoria Plzen are also struggling on -17 in Group C and could see their own winless campaign worsen against Barcelona on Tuesday, thereby potentially saving Rangers' blushes.
As for Ajax, semi-finalists in 2019, their record of one win — over the Ibrox outfit — and four losses represents a downturn in fortunes from recent years, though it will still be enough to clinch third place and a Europa League play-off berth as long as they avoid a 5-0 defeat in Glasgow. The only way they can be usurped is on head-to-head record.
There is little glossing over the fact that Rangers' return to the Champions League has been about as unsuccessful as any member of the Ibrox faithful could have dared to imagine.
The trouncing at the hands of Liverpool on home turf was the lowlight of a somewhat humbling experience for Gers, which may well serve as an unwelcome reminder of how far they have to go to close the gap on the European elite.
And with the domestic season already hitting a few snags — Celtic are four points clear after 12 games — Rangers cannot afford to lose focus on their league duties, no matter how badly they wish to avoid competition infamy on Tuesday night.
The comfortable 4-1 win at home to Aberdeen on Saturday will have done their preparations no harm and a Sunday kick-off away at St Johnstone will allow some extra rest before their Scottish Premiership quest continues, but even so, taking even a point off Ajax will require a far more polished performance than anything Van Bronckhorst's men have served up until now.
Ajax have an important clash with PSV coming up at the weekend, but the Ibrox visitors benefitted from a free calendar the weekend just gone, so a fresh unit should still cause plenty of problems in Glasgow. A total of over 2.5 goals for the Amsterdam side is available at a price of 19/10 with LiveScore Bet.