Scottish giants Rangers will travel to the Philips Stadion to face Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven for the second leg of their Champions League playoff tie on Wednesday night.
The tie is nicely poised at 2-2 from the first leg, with the winners of this contest qualifying for the Champions League group stage. The losers, meanwhile, will drop down into the Europa League.
PSV Eindhoven experienced the full force of the intimidating Ibrox atmosphere when they locked horns with Rangers in last week’s first leg, but they managed to come away from Glasgow with a hard-earned draw.
Ibrahim Sangare pounced on a loose ball inside the area to open the scoring in the 37th minute, but the visitors’ lead was short lived as Antonio Colak equalised just three minutes later, stroking a smart finish into the bottom-left corner.
A howler from PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez, who fumbled a Tom Lawrence free kick, then helped the Gers edge in front in the 70th minute before a towering header from defender Armando Obispo restored parity eight minutes later.
Head coach Ruud van Nistelrooy acknowledged after the four-goal thriller that a draw was a “fair result”, and his side now boast home advantage for the reverse fixture on Wednesday as they bid to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time in four years.
Since the first leg, PSV have been granted a week off from Eredivisie action by the Dutch FA to focus fully on their Champions League playoff tie, with their fixture against newly-promoted FC Volendam rearranged to August 31.
Last season’s KNVB Beker winners are currently enjoying a 12-game unbeaten run across all competitions, but they head into Wednesday’s encounter having failed to win any of their previous three home meetings against Rangers, including a goalless draw back in the 2010-11 Europa League knockout rounds.
Rangers, meanwhile, followed up their 2-2 draw with PSV by playing out the same result with nine men away at Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
After James Tavernier converted from the penalty spot on the stroke of half time, Martin Boyle equalised for the hosts six minutes after the break before the Gers then shot themselves in the foot when John Lundstram and substitute Alfredo Morelos were both dismissed within the space of nine second-half minutes.
Rangers attempted to cling on to their lead with only nine men in the closing stages, but in the third minute of stoppage time, Josh Campbell fired in a Hibs equaliser to force both sides to share the spoils.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side now turn their attention to Wednesday, and with a £40m ticket to the Champions League group stage on the line, Rangers are aware of the magnitude of their second-leg tie as they aim to qualify for the group stage for the first time in 12 years.
The Gers impressed on their route to the Europa League final last season, beating Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade, Braga and RB Leipzig in the knockout rounds before losing to Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties in the final.
While Rangers have enjoyed plenty of memorable European nights at Ibrox in recent years, they have struggled on the road as they have won only one of their last 11 away games in continental competition – a 4-2 Europa League playoff win at Dortmund in February.
The Glaswegian giants have a mixed record against Eredivisie opposition, winning and losing seven times each as well as drawing on six occasions, and when playing in the Netherlands, the Gers have won four, lost four and drawn two.
PSV quintet Noni Madueke (ankle), Carlos Vinicius (hamstring), Mauro Junior (groin), Olivier Boscagli (knee) and Yorbe Vertessen (illness) are all doubtful and will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Van Nistelrooy is expected to name the same starting lineup from the first leg, with Manchester United-linked Cody Gakpo set to join Luuk de Jong and Ismael Saibari in attack.
Everton loanee Jarrad Branthwaite, who came on as a late substitute in the first leg, is set to begin on the bench once again, with Obispo and Andre Ramalho expected to retain their places at centre-back.
As for Rangers, Van Bronckhorst is unable to call upon Kemar Roofe, Filip Helander and Ianis Hagi who all remain sidelined with long-term injuries.
Tom Lawrence twisted his ankle in the draw against Hibs and the Wales international is doubtful for the trip to the Netherlands.
Malik Tillman, who was an unused substitute last weekend, could be recalled to replace Lawrence, joining Colak and Ryan Kent in the front three.
John Lundstram, Steven Davis and Ryan Jack will all be competing for a place in centre-midfield, while it remains to be seen whether Glen Kamara will be involved after he was left out of the matchday squad last weekend amid interest from Ligue 1 side Nice.
PSV Eindhoven possible starting lineup:
Benitez; Teze, Ramalho, Obispo, Max; Sangare, Veerman, Gutierrez; Saibari, De Jong, Gakpo
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McLaughlin; Tavernier, Goldson, Sands, Barisic; Lundstram, Davis, Jack; Tillman, Colak, Kent