Rangers are only slight favourites to make it past Slavia Prague in their Europa League round of 16 tie, according to a statistical supercomputer.
The Gers overcame Royal Antwerp 9-5 on aggregate to secure their place in Friday’s round of 16 draw and they were paired with Czech outfit Slavia Praha.
Stats website FiveThirtyEight have published their predictions for the next round of fixtures and they believe that the Gers tie is by far the closest to call.
The Light Blues are given a 54% chance of going through by their SPI (Soccer Power Index) ratings – no other side backed to progress has a lower percentage.
Their forecasts are based on statistics from 39 European leagues, with teams given a defensive and offensive rating to form their overall ranking.
As expected the chances drop further on in the competition, with the Gers given a 22% chance of reaching the semi-finals and an outside 8% shot of making the final in Gdansk on May 26, higher than Italian giants AC Milan.
Meanwhile, the chances of bringing the Europa League trophy back to Ibrox are rated at 3%, with Manchester United the clear favourites at 24%.
We’re better than that
Gerrard will be playing little attention to computer-derived statistics but it is interesting to see how closely the ratings pair us and Slavia.
Their victory over Leicester shows how dangerous it would be to underestimate them as they kept consecutive clean sheets against the Foxes and offered a big threat going the other way.
However, we think our chances should be rated higher than 54%.
With Gerrard at the helm we have a figurehead who knows what it takes to get to the latter stages of European competition and our experience in reaching the same stage last season should stand us in good stead for this fixture.
Slavia might have an exciting prodigy on their hands with Abdallah Sima but we wouldn’t swap him for Alfredo Morelos who lit up the Antwerp games with breathtaking all-round performances.
We are still unbeaten in Europe and riding high on confidence so it will take a special team to knock us down.
Slavia are not that side and we can dream of a run to the latter stages.
In other Rangers news, our view on the 26y/o who is sending a defiant message to Steven Gerrard