Charlie Nicholas claims Rangers pain is just getting started as he predicts nightmare Europa League scenario

Charlie Nicholas claims Rangers face crashing out of the Europa League quarter-final by the time Thursday’s first leg is over.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are still reeling from a nightmare defeat to Celtic that leaves their Premiership title defence in ruins as they prepare to take on Braga.

Rangers have slipped six points behind their city rivals as Ange Postecoglou’s team came from behind to record a monumental victory at Ibrox on Sunday.

And they must now drag themselves off the floor for a trip to Portugal later this week, but former Parkhead star Nicholas reckons the tie is at risk of being over by the time the second leg kicks off in Glasgow.

He wrote in the Scottish Daily Express : “If play against Braga like they did against Celtic then they could go out of the Europa League on Thursday. It could be all over in the first leg unless there is a dramatic improvement from the weekend.

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“Rangers just didn’t keep the ball and had no purpose. What will they do? Kemar Roofe, above, hasn’t performed under Giovanni van Bronckhorst and I think they will go to a 5-4-1 and hit on the break.

“We know Rangers have turned in big performances in Europe. But I tipped Braga when the draw was made and I think they could win 2-0 this week.

“Rangers just need to keep it alive going back to Ibrox.”

Nicholas insists Rangers were “awful” in a weekend defeat that puts Celtic in pole position to reclaim the league crown.

In fact, the 60-year-old reckons it’s already over for Van Bronckhorst and his team

He said: “The Premiership title has gone for Rangers, it is that simple.

“It is effectively seven points when you look at Celtic’s goal difference. Celtic are not going to drop points in three of their remaining league games.

“In my opinion, the better team won on Sunday at Ibrox. Celtic didn’t have to be at their best.

“Ange Postecoglou doesn’t sit back because his instinct is always to attack and, because of that, even when they go behind they still remain dangerous.

“What has impressed me most of all about Ange’s team is that defensively they are getting better and better.

“Yes, we know the central defenders have mistakes in them and the full-backs can be exposed.

“But Joe Hart hardly had a save to make. He had more to do from the idiot that threw the broken glass on to the park than he did from the Rangers team.

“Celtic’s weakness is when they don’t have the ball, but now they have improved defensively and they are a lot stronger. That is why Christopher Jullien can’t get back in.

“The other issue I took from the game was that Rangers couldn’t pass the ball. They were awful when in possession.

“The only passing move of significance from Rangers came from their early goal and showed why Aaron Ramsey had to be in the team.

“That just allowed Celtic to grow in stature and yet again mistakes were made by Allan McGregor.”

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