With perhaps their most impressive defensive display occurring on Sunday at Pittodrie, Rangers’ new-look defence is set for its toughest test against Maribor.

Impressive outings against Shkupi and Osijek in the previous rounds have seen the Gers ship just one goal in four Europa League qualifying games, and then conceded just their second in seven matches under Steven Gerrard so far with the late blip against Aberdeen.

However, it must be said that the third qualifying round is going to pose a lot more problems than the previous two – perhaps combined.

Maribor are looking as good as they have done since they became a bogey club for Scottish teams. Rangers, Celtic, Hibernian, and Aberdeen have all been put to the sword by the Slovenian outfit in the last eight years in European competition.

Taveres is swamped by team-mates after scoring at Parkhead (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Yet their goal-scoring threat is as high now as its ever been. With 10 goals in two of their last three away games alone, Maribor have really shot into form since returning to competitive action this season.

Sitting top of the Slovenian Premier League and managed by Dirko Milanic, who was the head coach when Maribor knocked out both sides of the Old Firm, they’re in a real menacing mood since returning to competitive action.

Barring a couple of 0-0 blips in mid-July, Maribor have scored an impressive 15 goals in their five other competitive matches. Eight different scorers have been on the end of those goals, with such a big scoing threat being carried in their midfield.

The Slovenians often relied on talisman Marcos Taveres, best known for scoring the winning goal at Parkhead when Maribor knocked Celtic out of the Champions League at the playoff round back in 2014.

Maribor look set to provide Rangers with a big attacking threat (JURE MAKOVEC/AFP/Getty Images)

However these days, Maribor are playing an attractive brand of football that encourages runners beyond the opposition defence. This results in so many different scorers – particularly Amir Dervisevic and Jasmin Mesanovic, both of whom have been capped by Slovenia and Bosnia respectively.

It’s fair to say Rangers haven’t really had to deal with such a threat since returning for preseason. The toothless nature of Shkupi was followed up by a dangerous but unpolished Osijek side.

Aberdeen provided a lot of long balls for the Rangers defence to deal with, but they should expect some serious pressure from all angles against Maribor on Thursday night.

It’s been a tremendous start to life in Glasgow for Goldson and Katic, but they’ll be in for their toughest shift yet when Maribor come knocking at Ibrox this week.

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