Champions League: Rangers land Malmo or Helsinki as Celtic face perilous tie if they beat Midtjylland

Rangers will face Malmo or HJK Helsinki in the third qualifying round of the Champions League.

James Tavernier will lead Rangers into Champions League action.
James Tavernier will lead Rangers into Champions League action.

Celtic meanwhile, will play either PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray if they defeat Midtjylland in the second qualifying round.

The draw for the third qualifying round was made in Nyon on Monday lunchtime and Steven Gerrard’s Premiership champions now know which two teams they will face at the start of August.

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Swedish champions Malmo, who knocked the Ibrox side out of the tournament in 2011, are favourites to progress past Finns HJK. Malmo are currently top of the Allsvenskan after 12 games, while HJK also top the Veikkausliiga after the same amount of the games.

Rangers are in the “champions path” and the first leg will be in either Sweden or Finland on August 3 or 4, with the return leg in Glasgow a week later.

For Celtic, who are in the “league path”, they will find either PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray blocking their route to the Champions League play-offs should the Parkhead side overcome Midtjylland in the next week or so.

Ange Postecoglou’s men will give no thought to a tie with either the Dutch or Turkish runners-up in light of the fact there is precious little expectation that, during a period of comprehensive upheaval, they are in a state of readiness to push on into the third round.

However, should they surprise the doom-mongers, it is likely that PSV Eindhoven would be the reward. The Dutch club are the seeded team in their tie with Galatasaray and have a rich history as UEFA Cup winners in 1978 and European Cup conquerors in 1988. As with Celtic, they have struggled to make the desired impact in more recent times, though.

They reached the last 32 of the Europa League last season before exiting at the hands of Olympiakos 5-4 on aggregate. Their most recent appearance in the Champions League group stages came in 2018-19 when, drawn in a group with Barcelona, Inter and Spurs, they claimed only two points.

PSV were a distant second to Ajax in their domestic championship last season, finishing 16 points behind title winners Ajax and provided only two players – forward Cody Gakpo and Donyell Malen – for the 26-man Netherlands squad that competed in this summer’s Euros. They too will not be looking beyond their second round Champions League qualifier against a Galatasaray side that lost out on the Turkish title to Besiktas only on goal difference.

If Celtic lose against the Danes, they will drop into the Europa League and take on FK Jablonec of Czech Republic in the third qualifying round.

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