Red Star boss Dejan Stankovic thinks this season’s Europa League will be won by someone “unexpected” as he insisted his side “deserves” games like Thursday’s last 16 clash with Rangers.

Stankovic has led Red Star further than they’ve been in Europe over the last 30 years and confessed he thinks the Europa League is “tailored” for his side.

rangers red star
Photo by Octavio Passos – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Rangers host Red Star tomorrow night before the return in Belgrade next week and the former Inter and Lazio star is confident his side can reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

“The Europa League has shown it’s a competition that is full of surprises. I think whoever wins it this season will be an unexpected one. Hopefully, it is us,” Stankovic said.

“We respect Rangers. They are a very strong team, who are physically quick and who have been together for a long time.

“It will be a difficult game in Glasgow, but believe me we are ready for it.

“I believe it will take two games to separate the clubs because we are similar. The away goal doesn’t matter on Thursday.

“This is the kind of game that Red Star Belgrade deserves. The Marakana will be fantastic when Rangers visit.

“We could have drawn harder teams than Rangers. I am an optimist and I believe we can defeat them and go a long way in the Europa League. I think it’s a competition that is tailored for us.

“Of course we wanted to play in the Champions League, but I like the Europa League.”

Meanwhile, Rangers could benefit from major format changes in the UEFA Champions League from season 2024/2025.

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