Rangers' Champions League opponents 'dream' but boss insists pressure is on Europa League finalists
Rangers’ Champions League qualifying opponents Union Saint-Gilloise say pressure is all on the Ibrox club to maintain their stellar European form when they meet the Belgians next month.
Manager Karel Geraerts believes his Jupiler League shock troops, who finished omestic runners-up on their first season in the country’s top division for almost half a century, have already achieved by ensuring European football – even if they falter in their Champions League push and slip into the Europa League.
Geraerts was assistant for last season’s surprise league campaign and moved into the top job when Felice Mazzu moved to Anderlecht. He is relishing the challenge of top level European competition, but insists Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team are favourites for the tie.
"It's magnificent, the continuation of our last two seasons and we can show ourselves on another stage. We're going to give the best of ourselves, first for ourselves, and then for everyone here in Belgium, who is curious to see us in Europe.
"The Europa we already have in our pocket, it's very important. And now we have the chance to be able to play in the play-offs for the Champions League, it's a wonderful experience for the whole club, for the players and for me as a coach. Everyone dreams of the Champions League. We are going to play the best we can, and we'll see where we get to.
"It's a very big name for us, Rangers are a club with a lot of history, and last season were in the Europa League final. They are a team with a lot of quality.
"It's clear that Rangers are the favourites. We have all the respect for them, but we will try to play our game, and try to win, that's clear,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.
Union’s base in Brussels at the Stade Joseph Mariens has a capacity below 10,000 but with interest high in the qualifier a change of venue to OH Leuven has been suggested. Geraerts, though, is only focused on the match preparation – as well as his own domestic managerial debut.
"Now that we know the opponent, we are going to analyse it in depth. For the moment the focus remains on the Saint-Trond match, the Belgian championship is also very important.”
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