Rangers ready for big guns as key midfielder discusses future and Giovanni van Bronckhorst impact

Scott Arfield insists Rangers would welcome being paired with Barcelona when the Europa League knockout round play-off draw takes place on Monday.

Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield is relishing the prospect of landing a glamour tie in Monday's Europa League knockout round play-off draw.  (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield is relishing the prospect of landing a glamour tie in Monday's Europa League knockout round play-off draw. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

The Scottish champions will be one of the eight seeded teams after finishing as runners-up in Group A of the competition.

But the list of unseeded clubs contains a veritable ‘who’s who’ of elite European clubs who are dropping down from the Champions League.

Along with Barcelona, other potential opponents for Rangers include Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Sevilla, RB Leipzig and Zenit St Petersburg.

Midfielder Arfield insists Rangers will be able to hold their own against teams of that standard as they attempt to reach the last 16 of the Europa League for a second consecutive season.

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“Without a doubt,” he said. “I think we are a team people will look at – the way we play, the mentality, the stature of the club. I don’t think people will take us lightly in this competition, bearing in mind what we have done in the last three seasons by getting into the group stages and advancing. It’s certainly what we want to do again.

“That’s what you are in football for, to play in the best arenas and against the best teams to test yourself.

“These teams have dropped in there. There is some calibre of club in the competition. Whoever we come up against, we know it’s going to be a difficult game. We are certainly looking forward to the draw.”

Rangers maintained their unbeaten start to life under Giovanni van Bronckhorst as they wrapped up their group stage campaign with a 1-1 draw against Lyon in France on Thursday night.

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Arfield admits the Ibrox side have been reinvigorated by the Dutchman, although he believes they would also have regained top form under his predecessor Steven Gerrard who quit to take charge of Aston Villa last month.

“Personally, I think that was coming anyway,” said Arfield. “When you play at a club like this, people love to talk. So whether you are playing well and grinding out results, whether you’re not getting results and playing well, people love to talk about it.

“It gets more examined, more scrutinised and rightly so. So I think it was coming.

“But the manager wanted a new challenge down south and you can see that comparison down there where Aston Villa couldn’t really buy a win for the first five months of the season but have won three out of four now.

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“So they are certainly benefiting from that freshness after a great manager like Dean Smith stepping aside and our previous gaffer going in there.

“We’ve got the same bounce up here so I think the freshness and ideas, it happens all around the world. Particularly in European football, you get that freshness and a different voice. It takes you onto the next level.

“There are probably a number of reasons. It looks a wee bit more fluid, a wee bit more positive.

“I think that comes in with the freshness, the ideas of the new manager - a new voice. I think you can see that all around the world when you get that new bounce from a new manager.

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“We are certainly benefiting from it at the minute and it looks a bit more fluid for us, that’s for sure.”

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