Rangers land Belgian surprise package Union Saint-Gilloise in Champions League qualifying draw

Rangers’ Champions League campaign will begin with a trip to Belgium, and a possible ticket scramble for the third qualifying round match with Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.

The Jupiler League surprise package finished the regular season top after 34 games last season, though were pipped to the champions tag in the play-offs by eventual winners Club Brugge having been promoted from the second-tier in 2020-21.

Their ground, the Stade Joseph Marien, holds between 8,000 and 9,500 meaning fans hoping to follow Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team to Brussells could face a race for tickets.

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Rangers head to Belgium in the first leg scheduled for the first midweek in August.

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Last season’s SPFL second-placed side were following the ‘league' path including the runners-up in several divisions across Europe but given their sterling form on the continent in recent years - including last season’s run to the Europa League Final in Seville – the Ibrox club was seeded for the draw and avoided the likes of PSV Einhoven, Benfica and Dynamo Kiev.

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Instead, Rangers could have faced any one of five unseeded teams.

FC Midtjylland, who Steven Gerrard’s side defeated three years ago and who conquered Celtic last season, or Cypriot side AEK Larnaca still have to decide their qualifier and were one option for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team, with the more established European competitors Monaco and Sturm Graz also in Rangers’ section of the draw. By coincidence both the Ligue 1 and Austrian side were in Rangers’ group during the 2000/01 Champions League campaign too.

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Rangers learned their next European opponents in the draw at Nyon. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)

However Rangers face a Belgian double-header in the first fortnight of August for the right to enter the play-off round later next month before the group stage make-up is decided. Matches will be played on August 2/3 and the second legs on August 9.

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The play-off draw will take place on August 2.

The other ties paired in Rangers’ half of the draw were AS Monaco v PSV Eindhoven; Dynamo Kiev or Fenerbahce v Sturm Graz; Benfica v FC Midtjylland/AEK Larnaca.

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Real Madrid are the current holders of the Champions league trophy following their win over Liverpool in Paris last season. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

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