Steven Gerrard knows his side can make a big step towards the last 32 in Russia against a side misfiring on all cylinders
With three of the Europa League group stage games in the can, Matchday Four sees the competition firing up across the continent as teams chase the chance to reach Baku next May
Rangers sit atop Group G heading into the return batch of fixtures, topping a congested quartet thanks to their head-to-head away goals advantage over La Liga outfit Villarreal.
Steven Gerrard’s side therefore head to Moscow knowing that progression to the last 32 remains firmly in their own hands – and they’ll be able to make a giant leap forward if they can defeat Raul Riancho’s side on their home turf.
But Spartak will prove far from an easy encounter, having held the Gers to a 0-0 draw at Ibrox a fortnight ago . With striker Kyle Lafferty a doubt with a thigh injury, will the Glasgow side be able to turn their Scottish fighting spirit into a vital three points?
|Game||Spartak Moscow vs Rangers|
|Date||Thursday, November 8|
|Time||5:55pm GMT / 12:55pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game will not be broadcast on television but will be available to stream on Bleacher Report Live.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 3 and livestreamed on BT Sport Live.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Spartak Moscow players|
|Goalkeepers||Rebrov, Selikhov, Maksimenko|
|Defenders||Petkovic, Dzhikiya, Bocchetti, Kombarov, Kutepov, Eschenko, Likhachev, Gaponov, Rasskazov|
|Midfielders||Ananidze, Glushakov, Fernando, Samedov, Melgarejo, Eremenko, Timofeev, Zobnin, Popov, Tashaev, Hanni|
|Forwards||Luiz Adriano, Pedro Rocha, Lomovitski|
With injuries still a major concern for Riancho, young Aleksandr Maksimenko looks set to retain his place in goal behind a shaky defensive line.
Key striker Ze Luis is also out with a knock, meaning that Luiz Adriano will likely get the nod to lead the attack.
Potential Spartak Moscow XI: Maksimenko; Rasskazov, Bocchetti, Dzhikiya, Kombarov; Fernando, Ignatov, Zobnin; Lomovitski, Luiz Adriano, Tashaev.
|Goalkeepers||McGregor, Foderingham, Halliday|
|Defenders||Tavernier, Goldson, Flanagan, Katic, Barisic, Worrall, McAuley|
|Midfielders||Jack, Ejaria, Halliday, Candeias, Coulibaly, Kent, Grezda, Arfield, Middleton|
|Forwards||Sadiq, Morelos, Lafferty|
Rangers boss Gerrard may be without Lafferty following his absence against St Mirren with a thigh injury, potentially joining Jamie Murphy and Graham Dorrans on the sidelines.
Daniel Candeias is likely to get a run-out for the visitors ahead of a domestic suspension picked up on Saturday following his opener in his side’s 2-0 win in the Scottish Premiership.
Potential Rangers XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Worrall, Halliday; Coulibaly, Jack, Arfield; Candeias, Kent, Morelos.
Betting & Match Odds
Spartak Moscow are slight 23/20 favourites to take the victory, according to bet 365 , while a draw is available at 13/5. Rangers, meanwhile, are priced at 5/2.
Click here to see all of bet 365’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Gerrard’s start to managerial life with Rangers might have produced more mixed domestic results than some were hoping for, with six wins from 11 in the Scottish Premiership meaning they trail both rivals Celtic and league leaders Hearts.
But in Europe, the former Liverpool midfielder and Champions League winner has raised expectations of the Gers reaching the knockout stages of a European tournament for the first time since the 2010-11 campaign.
They have had to make it through to the Europa League group round the hard way, fighting through three gruelling double-leg qualifying games and an additional play-off to reach the main competition.
But last month’s draw with Spartak Moscow has extended their European record to 11 games unbeaten and given real hope that they can achieve something on the continent this season.
Their draw at home to the Russian outfit however was a disappointment, with the club missing a clear-cut chance to get their noses out in front in Group G.
Villarreal instead sit on level terms with them at the top while Rapid Wien are breathing down their necks two points behind.
Spartak however must get the win if they are to avoid a pre-Christmas exit from Europe.
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Riancho’s side have been in mixed form at home and lie 12 points behind Russian Premier League leaders Zenit.
What’s more, they have been unable to find a suitable replacement for the departed Quincy Promes after the Dutchman left for Sevilla following their failure to secure Champions League football.
Moscow remains an unforgiving place to visit for any European side however and Gerrard will know that he has a fight on his hands to see his side fly home with three vital points.