Rangers on track for Champions League after bagging Belgian minnows | Football

Rangers on track for Champions League after bagging Belgian minnows | Football
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Rangers' Charlie McCann celebrates with teammates after scoring in the pre-season friendly against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Saturday

Rangers’ Charlie McCann celebrates with teammates after scoring in the pre-season friendly against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Saturday (Picture: James Gill-Danehouse/Getty Images)

Rangers have been given a great opportunity to move a step closer to the lucrative Champions League group stage after being drawn with Belgian minnows Union Saint-Gilloise yesterday.

The Europa League runners-up travel to Belgium in the first leg of the third qualifying round on August 2-3 with the return at Ibrox a week later.

The winners will progress to the final play-off round where teams such as Dynamo Kiev or PSV Eindhoven potentially lie in wait.

Gers are bidding for their first group-stage involvement since the 2010/11 season under the late Walter Smith when they finished third in a section that included Manchester United, Valencia and Bursaspor.

Union were runners-up in the Belgian league last season behind Club Brugge after a return to the top flight in 2021 following a 48-year absence.

The club won the most recent of their 11 Belgian titles way back in 1935 and play in a 9,400-capacity stadium, the Stade Joseph Marien, in Brussels.

Antonio-Mirko Colak reacts to a disallowed Rangers goal in the Blackpool game

Antonio-Mirko Colak reacts to a disallowed Rangers goal in the Blackpool game (Picture: Getty Images)

Rangers, who have bolstered their squad with Malik Tillman, Antonio Colak, Tom Lawrence, Rabbi Matondo and John Souttar, will be confident of getting past a side that recently sold top scorer Deniz Undav to Brighton.

In the Europa Conference League third qualifying round, Dundee United will play either Dutch side AZ Alkmaar or Bosnian outfit Tuzla City.

The first leg is at Tannadice on August 4 with the away tie on August 11. AZ are big favourites to see off Tuzla, having spent £6million this summer.

Sporting CP new signing Rochinha hunted down by Senne Lynen of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in a pre-season friendly in Lagoa, Portugal (Picture: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Last season, Pascal Jansen’s free-scoring side came fifth in the Eredivisie and only the top three sides in the table – Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord – notched more goals.
AZ have sold left-back and captain Owen Wijndal to Ajax but have brought in £3.4m Danish striker Jens Odgaard.

If Motherwell come through their second-round qualifying tie with Sligo Rovers, they will face Czech side Sparta Prague or Viking Stavanger of Norway.

Sparta beat Rangers in last season’s Europa League group stage at home but lost the return at Ibrox.

Viking were last in Europe in 2020 when they were knocked out in Europa League qualifying by Aberdeen.


MORE : Rangers agree £4m fee with Liverpool for defender Ben Davies


MORE : Jose Mourinho aims dig at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick after masterminding Roma’s Europa Conference League triumph

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