What Rangers fans need to know about Europa League opponents Maribor

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Rangers have been drawn to face Slovenian side Maribor in the Europa League third qualifying round.

Here are five things you might not have known about the Ibrox outfit’s opponents.

Darko Milanic, Maribo manager. Picture: '<8B@89 '>;C1>28G/ WIkiCommons

Darko Milanic, Maribo manager. Picture: '<8B@89 '>;C1>28G/ WIkiCommons

1. The manager

Darko Milanic will be a name familiar to some fans of British football following an ill-fated spell at Leeds in 2014, where he became the first non-British head coach of the club. Brought in by eccentric owner Massimo Cellino, Milanic was in charge for just six games - winning none - and a total of 32 days before he was thrown on the managerial scrapheap. He has since returned to Maribor where he enjoyed a five-year spell earlier in his career.

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2. Familiar opponents

The trip to Scotland will be one the Slovenian side are used to, having been drawn against Scottish opponents five times in the past 17 years. They boast an impressive record, too, and are unbeaten there in their previous four trips. The most eye-catching performance came at Celtic Park, when they dumped Ronny Deila’s Celtic side unceremoniously out of the Champions League qualifiers four years ago.

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3. Domestic domination

Maribor have been the major force in Slovenian football over the past 10 years. Between 2010 and 2015, they picked up five successive league titles and one domestic treble, which came in 2012-13. There have been recent signs that their dominance is over however, with Olimpija Ljubljana winning two of the previous PrvaLiga campaigns, though Maribor are back on top in the early stages of this season.

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4. Purple Warrior

Leading the line and leading the team will be long-serving striker Marcos Tavares, who has been at the club for 10 years. The Brazilian is a firm fan favourite, having been crowned ‘Purple Warrior’ (a club award for the “most spirited individual in a season) six times during his time in Slovenia. He has pedigree too, scoring four times in six outings against Scottish opposition.

5. Solid at the back

It has been a fairly serene route through to the third round of qualifying for Maribor, who have yet to concede en route to their tie against Rangers. They won home and away to see off Partizani 3-0 on aggregate, before drawing 0-0 at Chikhura and claiming a 2-0 win in the return leg. With Steven Gerrard’s side also making defensive improvements, it could be a tight tie over the two legs.