Spartak Moscow v Rangers preview: Ryan Kent out of Moscow clash

Rangers have suffered a double blow ahead of their Europa League encounter with Spartak Moscow after Ryan Kent joined striker Kyle Lafferty on the sidelines.

Rangers top Group G going into Thursday’s match in Russia, having drawn 0-0 with them at Ibrox in October, with Steven Gerrard’s side unbeaten in 11 European games this season.

Villarreal are level on points with Rangers with five points and visit Rapid Vienna in Thursday’s other Group G match. Spartak Moscow have two points, one fewer than Rapid.

Spartak also have their troubles, with supporter unrest hanging over the club. Under-fire caretaker manager Raul Riancho pleaded with fans to lay off his players following their angry reaction to a fourth consecutive home league defeat on Sunday and Gerrard hopes there is more discontent at the Otkritie Arena.

“We can only hope that the atmosphere is the same in the stadium because that would mean we are playing well and we’re doing our job,” said Gerrard, whose side lead the group with five points.

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“But in all honesty the most important thing for me is what my players do and that we carry out the game plan that’s given to the players and we come here and really embrace it and express ourselves.”

Team news

On-loan Liverpool midfielder Kent has been ruled out with a hamstring injury and boss Gerrard has added Scotland U17 striker Dapo Mebude to his squad ahead of Thursday’s game in Russia.

Gerrard said: “Ryan came off against St Mirren with a hamstring issue which we are looking into at the moment. Ryan won’t be available for us over here in Moscow and at Motherwell either.

“Obviously it’s an opportunity for someone else, certainly over the next couple of games, to come in and express themselves.”

Rangers remain without defender Borna Barisic, midfielder Graham Dorrans and winger Jamie Murphy.

Opta stats

  • Spartak Moscow and Rangers drew 0-0 at Ibrox on MD3, a meeting that was the first-ever competitive game played between these two sides.
  • Spartak Moscow did not attempt a shot on target against Rangers on MD3 until the 70th minute – this attempt through Sofiane Hanni was their only shot on target in the whole match.
  • Rangers are unbeaten in all 11 of their European games under manager Steven Gerrard, winning five and drawing six.
  • Spartak Moscow are yet to win a European match so far in 2018-19 – they were knocked out by PAOK Salonika in the Champions League qualification stages (L1 D1) and have a record of drawn two, lost one in the Europa League.
  • Spartak Moscow have never defeated a Scottish side in a competitive European match (W0 D3 L2), including the 0-0 draw versus Rangers on MD3.

Charlie’s prediction

It’s a must-win scenario for the Russian side and I know Rangers have had decent results in this competition but they are playing against a tough, stubborn, dour opponent who will just grind and grind them down so I can see a first defeat for Steven Gerrard’s side in this competition.

Charlie predicts: 2-1 (7/1 with Sky Bet)

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