FORMER Bayer Leverkusen and Celtic forward Andreas Thom believes Rangers face an almighty task in trying to get the better of tonight’s Bundesliga’s opponents.

Peter Bosz’s side are on a nine-game unbeaten run which has seen them overcome formidable teams like Eintracht Frankfurt, Porto and Borussia Dortmund.

And although the BayArena side are eight points off first place in the German top flight, Thom is adamant that on their day they’re as good as any team in Germany.

“To be honest, at the moment they are playing fantastic football and they are in great shape,” said the former forward, who helped Celtic to a crucial league title in 1998 and a Scottish Cup the following season.

Glasgow Times:

“Yes, I think so,” said Thom when asked if his former club have the capacity to beat any team in Germany or Rangers in the Europa League.

“You never know what could happen in one or two weeks’ time with the coronavirus outbreak. But at the moment they are definitely prepared for the game against Rangers and they are in good shape.”

So far this season Leverkusen have surpassed expectation with a run to the semi-finals of the German Cup, as well as their formidable league form.

Bosz’s side will be without the evergreen, attacking talents of Kevin Volland, who leads the club’s goalscoring charts with 11 goals and a further nine assists, after the striker picked up an ankle injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season.

Yet, Rangers fans shouldn’t rest too easily. According to Thom, Leverkusen’s most fearful weapon is the prolific talents of 20-year-old midfielder Kai Havertz, who has quickly established himself as the club’s most important player.

“At the moment he’s playing fantastic football,” said Thom of the young midfielder that either scored or assisted four of the five goals Leverkusen scored against Porto in the last round of the Europa League.

“He scores goals and he creates goals so it’s going to be an interesting game. He has only turned 20 and he is already one of the leaders despite being so young.”

Glasgow Times:

When asked if Rangers have any hopes of upsetting the odds against Leverkusen, as they have already done this season against the likes of Braga, Porto and Feyenoord, the former Celtic man added: “That is impossible for me to give you an answer!”

The Ibrox side will be facing an opponent that routinely plays some of the best clubs in European football in their own division and has already shown a capacity to beat them.

The club that derives its existence and continued support from one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world hasn’t won a European trophy since Espanyol midfielder Sebastian Losada missed a penalty in the 1988 UEFA Cup final. As such, Bosz and his young, exciting side will undoubtedly have their heart set on a Europa League title that has looked more and more obtainable with every passing round. That is, of course, if they can get past Rangers.

Do they believe they’re favourites for the competition?

“I don’t know yet,” notes the forward. “They want to win against Rangers and then it depends who they get in the next round draw.”