Rangers have seen gradual progression in the competition each season first reaching the groups was a successful accomplishment and then last season’s progression through the sections and into the knock-out phase was a huge lift.
The Ibrox side saw off Braga and then met Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 and hopes are high for Alfredo Morelos and company to fire the club to similar stages again this season.
To do that though, first they need to negotiate a group containing Lech Poznan from Poland, Portuguese giants Benfica and tonight’s hosts in Belgium, Standard Liege.
Kemar Roofe and Joe Aribo are over the worst of their calf injuries and have travelled with the party to Belgium for the first game of the competition proper.
It’s important to set the tone for the campaign early and Rangers have avoided defeat in every group stage opener contested this century – the last time one was lost was 1999 when Valencia visited Ibrox in the Champions League.
Galatasaray was a big scalp in the play-off round, but now can Rangers maintain that 19-year tradition? Join us in our live blog with all the build-up match updates, reaction and analysis to find out.
The match in Standard Liege’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne is among the earlier tranche of Europa League games and kicks off at 5.55pm.
Standard Liege v Rangers: RECAP
Last updated: Thursday, 22 October, 2020, 18:39
- FT - Standard Liege 0 Rangers 1
(Tavernier 18 pen, Roofe 90)
- Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liege
- Thursday, October 22, 2020
- Group D opening fixture - Lech Poznan lose 4-2 to Benfica in the other.
The manager has spoken about the changes he’s made to the starting line-up
Filip Helander has a kick and Leon has looked good in training. Ianis Hagi has Belgian experience
Ianis Hagi missed the weekend but he has been drafted back into the Rangers team for this game - a return to Belgium where he spent a year in Genk. He spoke last night about the mentality needed amongst the players and his Old Firm omission at the weekend.
Circumstances have now conspired on two occasions to prevent Ianis Hagi fulfilling his ambition to play in an Old Firm match.
Fans are allowed in to the Stade Dufrasne for this evening’s game, but only a few.
The local authorities have permitted around 3000 into the 27,000-seater stadium - Standard had hoped to have around 8,000.
Of course there are no Rangers supporters present - and it’s unlikely there will be any for the return leg too.
Teams are out
Rangers are in the white away kit for the match against Les Rouches - who are in their dark coloured kit
The Gers wore it with some success in Aberdeen against another team in red - Ryan Kent’s goal on the opening day of the SPFL Premiership was enough for a win.
And it’s Kent who gets the group stage underway.
2 - High pressure
Liege already putting pressure on Rangers defenders just outside the penalty box.
Balogun likes to step out with the ball, but he’ll find a forward in close proximity if he tries it in the current set-up.
7 - Big Switch
Liege have had more of the early possession, but they’ve sent long cross-field passes, left to right usually, seeking out Cameroon defender Collins Fai.
The forwards continue to sit very high and press the Rangers defence.
10 - Fresh Air
Two fresh air swipes from Rangers on their first foray into the Liege box. A deep cross from Barisic almost falls for Tavernier but his volley attempt is missed and scrambled to Kent who has possession prodded away before he could fire a shot away.
Positive signs for Rangers
12 - Free kick
Lovely pass through from Ianis Hagi gives Alfredo Morelos one to chase and he is after it - but not articularly quickly.
The Colombian does make it and picks up a free kick for his lumbering troubles after a clip on his ankle.
Free kick could have been in shooting distance but the Barisic cross into the area evaded everyone.
17 - Corner
Good work from Hagi earns a corner for Rangers. Chance to put more pressure into the box