Rangers' 8 potential Champions League qualifying opponents now confirmed - from Euro giants to debutants
As they did this season, the Ibrox club will have to negotiate two rounds of qualifiers to reach the most lucrative stage in European football. They will enter the third qualifying round of the League Path on August 8 or 9, a few days after the Scottish Premiership season begins. Should they win that tie they will go into the play-off round which is played at the end of August.
The good news for Rangers is that they will be seeded for both rounds due to their success in the Europa League in recent years which has boosted the club’s coefficient. With leagues around Europe all but completed, the club now know the identity of the opposition they could face.
In the third qualifying round there are six possible opponents. Two have qualified for the third round directly but are unseeded. Austrian runners-up Sturm Graz, who Rangers faced in the group stage back in 2000, and FK TSC of Serbia. They have reached the Champions League for the first time in their history after finishing ahead of Partizan Belgrade.
Two more will join from the second qualifying round. Genk and Dnipro-1 from Belgium and Ukraine respectively are seeds and will be drawn against Swiss side Servette and Greek giants Panathinkaikos. Of those four teams, it is only Panathinkaikos who Rangers have played in competitive action, doing so in the Champions League and their run to the UEFA Cup final in 2008. The winners of those ties will progress to the third round where they will be unseeded alongside Sturm Graz and TSC.
As well as Rangers, the seeds in the third round are Braga, Marseille and PSV Eindhoven. All four will be expected to progress from their ties. If all four were to win, Marseille and PSV would be the two possibilities in the play-off round. It could mean a rematch of this past season’s play-off tie when Antonio Colak’s goal in the Netherlands secured Rangers the win. The club, of course, have history with the French side. In the 1993 Champions League Marseille finished a point ahead of the Scottish side to progress to the final where they defeated AC Milan. OM would later have their French league title from that season stripped from them by the French Football Federation for match-fixing.
If Rangers were to come through their two ties they would go into Pot 3 in the group stage, rather than Pot 4 as they did this campaign when drawn against Napoli, Liverpool and Ajax. Such is the club's coefficient it is higher than Italian duo Lazio and Milan and Red Star Belgrade who have all been assigned to Pot 3 so far.
The draws for the different rounds take place on:
Third qualifying round – July 24
Play-off – August 7
Group stage – August 31
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