Everything you need to know about Rangers' Europa League opposition
Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images

A comprehensive look at Rangers Europa League Opposition

Rangers Europa League run has been monumental so far – and it hasn’t even really started.

The Gers have qualified for European competition for the first time since 2010, and it’s fair to say the fans are buzzing for some more trips to the continent.

Rangers fans have travelled to Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Russia so far on this Europa League run. (Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

The draw was made this afternoon in Baku and Rangers were paired with exciting ties in Spain and Austria against Villarreal and Rapid Vienna, and a return to Russia to play Spartak Moscow.

WAYNE ROONEY TO EVERTON IS A JOKE.

Here’s a look at what Rangers’ Europa League opposition have to offer.

Villarreal

We’re no strangers to El Submarino Amarillo.

The Yellow Submarines infamously knocked Rangers out of the last 16 of the Champions League in 2006. We’ll Rangers Europa League fate brings them back to the city looking for revenge.

The Spanish giants had an impressive fifth place finish in La Liga last year and are the biggest challenge in Rangers Europa League run.

£70m+ on new players this season

They’ve spent close to a whopping £75m on transfers this season, £48m of which were for strikers Gerard Moreno, Karl Toko Ekambi and Roger Martinez. They also snapped up Santi Cazorla on a free.

They’re young, boisterous and full of energy. It’ll be a tough tie home and away.

Liverpool knocked Villarreal out in the semis of this competition the year they reached the final in 2016. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

KEY PLAYER

Carlos Bacca – The Villareal squad are very strong as a whole, with the likes of defenders Victor Ruiz and Jaume Costa supplementing Italian forward Nicola Sansone and £18m Gerard Moreno. But it’s Colombian forward Carlos Bacca who’s the focal point. He contributed 15 goals and 6 assists in 31 games last year.

Villarreal’s key man is Carlos Bacca, who is in the Colombian squad with Alfredo Morelos. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

MANAGER

Javier Calleja – Calleja was a Villareal legend as a player, spending six seasons at the club. Now at the helm of the classy Spanish outfit, he’s looking to build on a very productive first season.

When do we play them?

El Madrigal (24,890) – 20th September – 6pm

Ibrox – 4th October – 8pm

Fun fact

Amazingly Villareal owe their nickname to Liverpool’s favourite sons, The Beatles. In the 1967/68 season Villareal were vying for promotion, and to cheer on the yellow shirts, fans began to sing the song.

Villarreal are nicknamed the Yellow Submarine after the Beatles song. (Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Rapid Vienna

Rangers fans will remember the town Vienna for providing us with such legends as Libor Sionko and Filip Sebo – only it was Rapid’s rivals Austria Vienna who they were signed from.

Although they gave us Sasa Papac too, so it was worth it in the end.

Rapid Vienna finished 3rd in the Austrian League last season. They’ve saw 15 players leave the club and 10 join, including all three of their main men.

Rapid Wien/Vienna play in the Austrian Bundesliga and at the time of writing sit 5th after 5 games. (Photo by Josef Bollwein/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Top scorer Giorgi Kvilitaia joined Gent, creative midfielder Louis Schuab left for Koln and Brazillian striker Joelinton returned to Hoffenheim after his loan expired. They also lost their best centre back to Bundesliga 2 in Galvao who went to Koln.

They’ve done their best to replace them

Schaub replacement Knasmullner joined from Barnsley and hit a hattrick in a 4-0 demolition of Slovan Bratislava. He got another in the first leg against Steaua.

A decent looking outfit with goals in their side and one to be watched. They’re still gelling, like us, but I’d imagine we’ll have too much for them over the two ties.

We’ll need to, not only does Rangers Europa League run continuing rest on victory here, but they play with green and white hoops.

KEY PLAYER

Knasmullner – The 24-year-old Austrian midfielder has settled in very nicely in his homeland and is a tricky option who adds goals from midfield. They have a few players to worry about though – Stefan Schwab is a solid option at CB, the young Kostic is a dynamic midfielder and their number 9, Kosovan Veton Berisha is the young brother of Lazio’s Valon.

Christoph Knasmüllner scored 4 in 4 in qualifying. (Photo by Josef Bollwein/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

MANAGER

Goran Djuricin – Like Javier Calleja, Djuricin has a connection to his club’s hometown. Unlike Calleja, it’s with their biggest rivals. Djuricin spent six years at Austria Wien in the 90s but made on 15 appearances. The father of Austrian International Marco Djuricin, the Europa League is a big test for him.

When do we play them?

Ibrox – 4th October – 8pm

Allianz Stadion (28,345) – 13th December – 6pm

Fun fact

Almost since the club was formed Rapid fans have brought in the final 15 minutes of EVERY GAME with a rhythmic clapping they call Rapidviertelstunde. They do it no matter the score. The ritual has worked plenty of times in inspiring the team to victory.

Rapid fans rhythmically clap to the final 15 minutes of EVERY game in a move called Rapidviertelstunde. (Photo by Johann Schwarz/SEPA.Media /Getty Images)

Spartak Moscow

Rangers Europa League run is set to take them back to Russia for this challenging tie. We’ve defeated a Russian team once, there’s no reason why we can’t again.

It’s a much bigger challenge than Ufa too.

The Moscow club finished 3rd in the Russian Premier League last year, narrowly missing out by 4 points. They also played in the Champion’s League group stages.

Like Rangers, they are their country’s most successful club.

Weakened by star man’s departure

But they are made considerably weaker by the £18m transfer of star man and top scorer from last season Quincy Promes. The pacey Dutchman joined Sevilla.

They haven’t really replaced Promes but have a strong squad full of talent. There’s Brazillians in abundance and they have an physical spine. They’re technical, pacey and full of creative talent.

And Rangers will have to take more points off them than they do us to qualify.

Quincy Promes 15 goals made him the Russian Premier League’s top scorer last year. He’s moved to Sevilla for £18m (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)

KEY PLAYER

Luiz Adriano – There are a few very good players in this Moscow team but it Luiz Adriano who stands out. At 31, he might not have the legs he once did but the striker is a real threat creatively and in front of goal. He’s also started the season on fire with 3 goals in 4 at the time of writing. Mention too has to go to industrious midfielder Roman Zobnin who is still young and looks a really good option.

Luiz Adriano has been an almost permanent figure in Eastern Europe since 2007. Once of Shakhtar Donetsk (2007-2015), he contributed 12 goals in the league in his first season for Spartak last season. (Photo by Epsilon/Getty Images)

MANAGER

Massimo Carrera – The former Italian centre back and international played for Juventus and Atalanta amongst many others in Italy in a strong playing career. He also took the reigns at Juventus for a short period in 2012. Now at the helm of Spartak, he has taken his tactical playing style into management.

When do we play them?

Ibrox – 25th October – 8pm

Otkritie Arena (45,360) – 8th November – 6pm

Fun fact

In the early days of Soviet football, any government agencies such as the police, military and railroads created their own clubs. Spartak were founded by a trade union public organisation and as such are known as “the people’s team” in Moscow.

Spartak Moscow is known as the people’s club in Russia after it was founded by a trade union. (Photo by Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images)


LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment