Borussia Dortmund’s fearsome attack is just one of several reasons Rangers should be wary, even if Erling Haaland is missing again. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images
Borussia Dortmund’s fearsome attack is just one of several reasons Rangers should be wary, even if Erling Haaland is missing again. - © Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

5 reasons Borussia Dortmund will beat Rangers in the UEFA Europa League play-offs


Borussia Dortmund need to overturn a 4-2 deficit from the first leg to secure a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 when they face Rangers in Glasgow on Thursday.

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Sound unlikely? Let explain how it will happen with five reasons why BVB will overcome their Scottish opponents…

1) Goals even without Erling Haaland

There is no hiding from the fact that Dortmund were humbled on home soil last week, but evidence suggests it was more an anomaly than the standard. BVB need to chase the game from the get-go, knowing they need at least two goals to have a chance of levelling the tie and three to win, potentially. With that in mind, having Erling Haaland on the field would have made a sizeable task already seem manageable.

Watch: All of Haaland's Bundesliga goals this season

However, Haaland did not board BVB's charter to Glasgow on Wednesday and will once again miss out. No doubt Dortmund will miss a man with a scoring rate of at least one goal a game across all competitions this season, with 16 in 14 in the Bundesliga, three in three in the Champions League and four in two DFB Cup fixtures. But that does not mean all hope is lost. In fact, just take a look at Sunday's 6-0 thumping of Borussia Mönchengladbach as proof that this Dortmund team have goals in them even without Haaland.

Fifteen different players have found the back of the net for Dortmund so far this season. With Donyell Malen on seven goals and Jude Bellingham, Julian Brandt, Thorgan Hazard and Raphael Guerreiro on five, and with Youssoufa Moukoko breaking his duck for the season on Sunday, it is hard to see Dortmund NOT scoring at least two goals on Thursday.

2) Reus on a roll

Sunday's emphatic win – inspired by Marco Reus, who scored two and set up three – took Dortmund onto 63 goals in 23 Bundesliga games this season. Only once before, in 2019/20, had they scored more (65) at this stage of a season. Scoring goals has therefore not been such a difficult task this term.

Watch: Reus scores two and assists three in Battle of the Borussias

In fact, they have scored fewer than the two they need as a minimum this week on only four occasions in the Bundesliga this season, thanks to the absolute wealth of attacking talent at Rose's disposal. Reus has 13 in all competitions and the German forward has come into his own in recent weeks, scoring back-to-back braces for the first time since October 2015 and netting five times in his past for league outings, plus his hat-trick of assists on Sunday.

In such form, Reus is unstoppable and Rangers are going to have their work cut out trying to keep the Germany international out of danger.

3) Comeback, come again?

Now that the away goals rule has been abolished, the size of Dortmund's task has been reduced somewhat. By scoring two, they would level the tie at 4-4 and force extra-time, at the end of which a penalty shoot-out would determine the winner. So conceding four at home was not as bad as it would have been last season, though that is not to say Dortmund do not have to mount a comeback – they do, but they are certainly more than capable of doing it.

Even when they still needed two goals in stoppage time, Borussia Dortmund still prevailed against Malaga with Felipe Santana (c.) taking them through to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. - 2013 Getty Images

Just under a decade ago, when away goals did count double, Dortmund fell 2-1 behind to Malaga in the 82nd minute of their Champions League quarter-final second leg at Signal Iduna Park. They had just eight minutes to score two goals, and that soon became just one minute as the game went into stoppage time with the Spanish team still ahead. Up stepped Reus to head in an equaliser before Felipe Santana scored a third to take Dortmund into the semi-finals.

They have previous with Rangers too. After losing 2-0 in Glasgow in the third round of the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup, Dortmund won 2-0 at home and went on to win the tie on a penalty shoot-out. If that is not enough to inspire them to a repeat against Rangers...

4) European pedigree

European nights, especially games in the knockout stages, take on a different feel compared to regular domestic fixtures, the increased pressure and spotlight creating sink or swim scenarios.

Dortmund’s players are more used to this – and have grown accustomed to swimming. BVB reached the Europa League knockout stages in two previous campaigns, progressing to the quarter-finals in 2015/16, when they beat Porto and Tottenham before losing a two-legged thriller against Liverpool, and the round of 16 last time out in 2017/18, when a round of 32 victory over Atalanta preceded a defeat by Salzburg

Not only that, but they have been in the Champions League last 16 in each of the nine seasons prior to this one, progressing to the quarter-finals five times.

Not so with Rangers. This is just the Glasgow club’s fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. In each of the previous three, they won their round of 32 tie before being knocked out in the last 16 – including by Bayer Leverkusen in 2019/20.

Dortmund are tough to stop once they get going - and they love a European night. - INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

5) Big-time Bellingham

He may still be just 18, but Jude Bellingham has been Dortmund’s best player in Europe this season. The England international began all six of the team’s Group C games and started as he meant to go on with a goal and an assist in the 2-1 opening victory away to Besiktas.

He followed that up with a further three assists and scored one of BVB's consolations in the first leg a week ago, meaning that alongside captain Reus (three goals, one assist), he has been the team’s primary goal threat in Europe in 2021/22.

Watch: Bellingham's best goals and assists

The English midfielder may still be a teenager, but he brought up his 50th Bundesliga appearance last weekend and is an established fixture in this Dortmund team. What's more, Bellingham seems to thrive on the big occasions, so this one looks to be made to measure for the midfielder to enhance even further a reputation for polished performances when it counts.