Amidst all the transfer drama and upheaval, the thought of European football is still ringing loudly in the back of Rangers fans minds. After the disastrous Champions League campaign last time round you can understand why some fans may fancy a Europa League run again. Rangers should always be aiming for the top though, I’m sure everyone remembers their first Champions League night at Ibrox, the lights, the anthem, the belief that we can take anybody on.
My first Champions League night was against Stuttgart in the 07/08 season, one of the most famous European seasons in recent history due to it ending with a UEFA Cup final defeat against Zenit. That night though, wow. Rangers went 1-0 to a Mario Gomez goal before Charlie Adam cut inside onto his RIGHT foot and curled one into the corner. The noise after that goal still lives with me today, Ibrox was bouncing and then it got better, and louder. Jean-Claude Darcheville tucked away a penalty, performed the famous celebration and I could barely see or hear anything. The noise was deafening and the stadium was jumping.
The Third Qualification Round
The draw for Rangers entry to the Champions League takes place on July 24th with the club entering at the third qualification round stage. Throughout the qualification journey Rangers will follow the seeded ‘league path’. Joining Rangers as seeded teams are;
- PSV Eindhoven
On the unseeded side, Rangers potential opponents, you have;
- SK Sturm Graz
- FK TSC Backa Topola
- Winner of the tie involving Genk
- Winner of the tie involving Dnipro
Personally, I’d like to avoid Genk and Dnipro, assuming they get through the 2nd qualifying round. Sturm Graz I know very little about although they do have highly rated Dutch forward Emanuel Emegha and ex-Celtic striker Albian Ajeti. They are also the team responsible for the develop of Atalanta’s young Danish superstar Rasmus Hojlund, so it’s fair to say they know something about developing strikers. Something very interesting on them is that the average age of their squad is only 23-years-old, they will be a young and hungry side out to prove they deserve to be in the Champions League.
As for FK TSC Backa Topola the only thing I know about them is that their star man is in-demand Serbian striker Petar Ratkov. He was linked to Rangers in January and I wrote about him earlier this season. It’s highly unlikely that he will still be at the club come August, although they will receive a decent fee for the 19-year-old so they will have money to spend to improve their team.
The reality is, no draw will be easy but I’m confident that whoever Rangers draw, they can come away victorious.
Champions League or Europa League? What would you prefer for this upcoming season?