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Bears to party on a historic night

Frank Monkhouse | 29 June 2017

Ibrox is a sell-out as European football returns

Just as you were settling into your summer holiday, football is back, with a jam-packed schedule on Thursday. A number of British clubs are in action in the early rounds of the Europa League qualifiers.

It’ll prove little more than a pre-season warm-up for most, but in Govan it promises to be a special occasion, one many followers thought they would never see again – Rangers back in Europe. Click here to have your say on that one, or build your accumulators.

Fans get first look at new signings

Pedro Caixinha barely has his coat off, but he’s already made an impression, signing nine new players, while telling the duds Mark Warburton left behind that they are free to find another club. Some have been ushered out the door, while others were told not to bother reporting back for training. In their place, he’s signed nine new faces, and on Thursday fans will get their first look at them.

Last season’s third-place finishers in the Scottish Premiership line-up against Luxembourg reps FC Progres Niederkorn. Never heard of them? That doesn’t matter, the minnows of European football come to Glasgow looking to spoil the party, and expose a group of players annoyed at having their summer break cut short. Many in the home dressing room got just a fortnight off before being called back for training.

Take underdogs to make it interesting

A home win is nailed on, certainly according to our traders, and it’ll be a case of how many Rangers win by. The locals have been chalked up as 1/22 shots to get the desired result, with Rangers -2 on the handicap only 4/9. That gives a clear picture of how our boys think this one will go. Fancy the plucky tourists to make a nuisance of themselves and catch out a Gers defence still in holiday mode? Both teams to score appeals at our 27/20.

That could rate as the value play in this match, with new signing Bruno Alves away at the Confederations Cup, leaving a makeshift defence behind – a group of men still little more than strangers, certainly in footballing terms. 13/8 says both teams will score in a Rangers win, and that’s the way we would play this one, if nothing else it’ll give you an interest throughout the match. If the Scots do run away with it, all you need is one goal in return.

Saints worth a place in your acca

Elsewhere on the evening and there’s plenty of familiar sides lining up, and you should get a shade of value in taking St Johnstone to beat Trakai FK in Perth. The Saints will be eager to make home advantage count, and in Tommy Wright they have a gaffer who has seen it all before. A home win is 2/5, and that deserves a place in Thursday multiples.

Irish side Shamrock Rovers jet to Iceland for the challenge of Stjarnan. Our football guys want to have a look at this one before making their mind up, meaning there’s a decent offer available for those willing to pick a side. Get 23/10 on Shamrock to go home with the win, or even money on local knowledge paying off.

Click for our Confederations Cup preview