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Rangers’ nightmare Champions League qualifying opponents revealed



IT’S looking like the ordeal of Champions League qualifying again for Rangers after Philippe Clement’s men went down 2-1 to Celtic on Saturday.

It would take a remarkable run of results to deprive the Hoops of being named Champions for a third successive season.


Rangers manager Philippe Clement has a major rebuild on his handsCredit: Reuters
Philippe Clement would love to be in there for the all-new Champions League format


Philippe Clement would love to be in there for the all-new Champions League formatCredit: Getty

That means it is Brendan Rodgersmen who will get the privilege of being the last Scottish Premiership champions to earn a guaranteed Champions League group stage spot by virtue of winning the league.

At Rangers, on the other hand, thoughts turning to exactly who they could face in qualifying to reach the expanded Champions League this summer.

If there’s good news and bad news for Gers fans this summer – the good news for Gers fans is that they are at least guaranteed group stage football in some shape or other until Christmas.

Assuming there’s no miracle end to their Scottish Premiership title hopes, they’ll have TWO rounds of Champions League qualifying ties to negotiate to unlock anything north of £40m in European cash this summer.

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Win the first one and they’ll be guaranteed at least Europa League group stage football.

Lose the first one and they’ll still have a crack at the Europa League group stages – and at least have the safety net of the Europa Conference League.

There’s a few ifs and buts here.

Final league placings aren’t quite sorted across Europe and there’s a more than decent possibility of a curve ball should Bayer Leverkusen win the Europa League.

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Should that come to pass, Benfica would go STRAIGHT into the Champions League group stages and the draw would need to be re-balanced.

While they almost benefitted from this route itself, Benfica‘s promotion would be a benefit to the Ibrox men, removing one of their biggest potential rivals and mean they would almost certainly be seeded all the way through.

Philippe Clement claims Dundee were ‘lucky’ to get a point against Rangers

That’s because the Gers also have the benefit of a strong five-year coefficient, even if they’re narrowly behind both Benfica and Philippe Clement‘s former club Club Brugge in this metric.

Here’s the teams which currently seem likely to lie in their wait – assuming Benfica DON’T benefit from an automatic spot.

An asterisk is place next to the name of any team who has yet to secure their spot.

Entering at second qualifying round (Rangers not in, by coefficient order)

Slavia Prague*



Dynamo Kyiv

Partizan Belgrade*


Third qualifying round



Club Brugge*


Slavia Prague or second round opponent*


Any two from Salzburg*, Fenerbahce*, Dynamo Kyiv, Partizan Belgrade*, Lugano*

FC Twente*


Play-off round (Rangers unseeded)

Assuming all the seeded teams win their ties, the Ibrox men would be in line to face Benfica or Club Brugge at this stage.

It’s an interesting assortment of teams standing in their way, with the likes of FC Twente in the Netherlands and Brest from France not having the European pedigree of the usual contenders at this stage.

But in terms of their nightmare draw, you can try Salzburg for size.

They’ve played in the Champions League for each of the last five seasons – only to find themselves trailing Sturm Graz this year.

Fenerbahce's Ryan Kent celebrates a Fenerbahce goal


Fenerbahce’s Ryan Kent celebrates a Fenerbahce goalCredit: EPA
Rafa Silva scores past Jack Butland as Benfica progressed at Ibrox


Rafa Silva scores past Jack Butland as Benfica progressed at IbroxCredit: Willie Vass

They would be tough opponents at the third round stage, as would Fenerbahce (featuring Ryan Kent and Michy Batshuayi) or Dynamo Kyiv.

As for the play-off round, Benfica eliminated the Ibrox men – however narrowly – from the Europa League this season.

Then there is Club Brugge, where Philippe Clement is revered having had massively successful spells as both player and manager.

They’re currently in a tight shoot-out with Anderlecht at the top in Belgium.

Slavia Prague is another side who the Ibrox men have a controversial history with – following a controversial clash between the two sides during the Steven Gerrard era.

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It’s not impossible they face them either, although such an eventuality would require one of the top two seeds to exit or Benfica to gain automatic access to the Champions League groups.

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page

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