Rangers prepare to travel to Holland to take on the Eredivisie side Willem II in the Europa League QR3 for a place in the competition’s Playoff round this season.
With the match a one-off affair, it promises to be a crunch tie with the Dutch side on good form and Rangers verging on experienced pros at this level of Europa League competition.
Qualifiers have come and went over the course of the last three seasons and Rangers have met everything thrown at them, but given the Covid shutdown, this could be the most important of the lot.
Whilst the Gers won’t be raking in millions from gate receipts at Europa League matches, the financial implications of failing to make the group stages will be felt right through the club.
At the moment Rangers can demand a price for their star men Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent; if we miss out on millions from a European run this might not be the case.
With the club also eager to add to the squad before the transfer window closes, Steven Gerrard’s resources will also likely be thinned out should we fail to make European competition.
Some fans might think with the backdrop of such a high-pressure season Europa League football could prove a distraction.
But the reality is if we fail to make the Europa League it could have far-reaching consequences on the strength of the club’s squad which weaken our ability to compete domestically.
Don’t just take my word for it – Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is adamant Euro success is just as important as making an impact on Scotland.
“That’s a very difficult question. We all know how important the league is every single year,” said Gerrard [Herald].
“That goes without saying but what people need to understand is that, for us, European football is vital. It’s key to the club moving forward.
“So, at this stage, there’s no possible way that I can prioritise in terms of one competition against the other.
“People need to realise that for this club to function in a healthy way we need to be successful in qualifying for European competitions.
“That’s going to be a bigger challenge this year because we don’t have the luxury of two-legged ties or the luxury of having 50,000 Rangers fans behind us at Ibrox.
“We’ve maybe had a bit of luck with the draw but it will still be more testing and challenging because these are one-off games.
“Obviously, we’re not seeded so we might need to progress through rounds two and three and who knows what could be waiting for us at the final hurdle?”
Should Rangers manage to defeat Willem II in Holland, the club will face either Croatian side Hadjuk Split or Turkish giants Galatasaray at Ibrox in the Playoff round.