Four talking points ahead of Rapid Vienna v Rangers in Europa League

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Victory for Rangers against Rapid Vienna will guarantee Steven Gerrard’s team progress to the Europa League knock-out stages.

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Rangers will look to Alfredo Morelos to be their match-winner, but can he keep his emotions in check. Picture: SNS

Rangers will look to Alfredo Morelos to be their match-winner, but can he keep his emotions in check. Picture: SNS

The Ibrox side picked up their only Group G win against the Austrians when they hosted Rapid in Glasgow back in September and a repeat will complete an incredible run to the last 32.

Here, Andy Newport takes a look at the main talking points ahead of the clash.

Morelos must tame his temper

Of the eight red cards Rangers have collected this season, three of them have been shown to the Colombia international. The simmering striker had his first dismissal overturned on appeal, but he had no-one but himself to blame for the two yellow cards he picked up in Ufa and against Aberdeen last week. Gerrard is fed up warning his players to behave themselves and he will be praying that message has finally sunk in with his top-scorer as the boss looks to clinch the biggest result of his reign so far.

A sign of things to come

Gerrard confessed Sunday’s drab 1-1 against the 10 men of basement boys Dundee had driven home to him which of his players he could and could not ‘trust’ as they blew the chance to regain the Ladbrokes Premiership lead. The former Liverpool skipper has made a habit of picking and choosing his line-ups depending on Gers’ opposition but perhaps the team he names to run out at the Allianz Stadion will be the one he relies upon until his second string can prove capable of making the step up.

Which Rapid will turn up?

To say the Green and Whites have had a roller-coaster season is an understatement. Domestically, they trail Red Bull Salzburg by 25 points just 17 games into their Bundesliga campaign yet on the European front, a draw with the Light Blues will be enough to see them through to the last 32. Spartak Moscow have been beaten home and away but Dietmar Kuhbauer’s men were humbled 3-1 at Ibrox before being thumped 5-0 by Villarreal. Rangers will be hoping it is the latter version of Rapid that they face on Thursday night.

Gers set for pitch battle

Rapid’s form has been just as patchy on the road as it has been at home, but the state of their playing surface at the Allianz will hardly have helped their cause. They registered a measly single shot on target as they laboured to a 0-0 draw with Strum Graz on Sunday on a pitch that has come in for heavy criticism from the club’s supporters. One of the goalmouths has already been re-laid but the rest of the park remains in a dire, rutted condition which has left Kuhbauer’s side looking even worse than normal as they struggled to complete the simplest of passes.