Rangers backed as 'absolute banker' v Braga - but pundit warns of 'tall ask' of dream Europa League final

Owen Hargreaves says Rangers – and West Ham – successfully coming through their Europa League quarter final ties is an ‘absolute banker’.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have already eliminated tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund and came through the hostile atmosphere against Red Star Belgrade to book a return trip to Braga in the quarter-final, and the winner will face either RB Leipzig or Atalanta in the semi-final.

The draw separated the Scottish champions from the likes of West Ham, Barcelona and Lyon and two-time Champions League winner Hargreaves believes the schedule has opened up favourably for Rangers to even make May’s final in Seville.

"I genuinely believe they can do the job against Braga and then get into a semi-final.

Owen Hargreaves has won the UEFA Champions League twice with Bayern Munich and Manchester United, but tipped Rangers as 'surprise finalists of the Europa League. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

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"Credit to them, they’re punching way above their weight and van Bronckhorst and his players could be a surprise finalist. Honestly. Rangers have to be delighted.”

He added: “They’ll respect Braga but they’ve been so good in the competition and they’ll get into the next round - forget playing Barca and West Ham - you want to face them in the final."

Asked if the two remaining British teams could progress, Hargreaves said a semi final place for each was ‘an absolute banker’, and Joe Cole said an ‘unbelievable’ all-British final was a ‘tall ask’ but didn’t rule it out.

His former club have been paired with Lyon with the winner facing either Barcelona or Eintracht Frankfurt for a place in the final and BT Sport pundit Cole echoed Hargreaves’ tip: “Ibrox is a special stadium, special group of fans and the story of the last ten years is incredible - from the journey they’ve been on, wining the league last year and this run they’ve been on - they won’t want it to end.

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Ianis Hagi inspired a dramatic comeback for Rangers at Ibrox two years ago (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“They’ve got players who can hurt you - Ryan Kent is a fantastic player who has developed into someone who has really produced on this stage - its opened up lovely and it’s a tall ask but a Rangers-West Ham final would be unbelievable.”

Rangers last faced Braga in 2020, winning 3-2 with a stirring comeback inspired by Ianis Hagi at Ibrox. They’ll head to Portugal on April 7 before the return at Ibrox a week later.

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Ryan Kent came in for praise after his appearances against Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Joe Cole said a Europa League final between West Ham and Rangers was a 'tall ask' but would be unbelievable. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
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