Europa League qualification is firmly on the minds of Rangers fans ahead of tomorrow night.
While it can’t officially be secured with a win over Villarreal, Rangers would just be about there. Three points is therefore all that’s on the mind of Steven Gerrard and his light blue legions going into the clash.
Of course, the Spaniards would secure their own qualification with a win at Ibrox. Such is the close-nature of the group, however, so many different variables can come into effect.
So here, we do our best to map out every scenario that could occur from Thursday night as clearly as possible:
What if Rangers win?
A Rangers win tomorrow night wouldn’t see them qualify, nor might it see them top the group. Any success over Villarreal will put the Gers on eight points. The only way they wouldn’t top the group is if Spartak Moscow beat Rapid Vienna.
If Rangers and Spartak win, they’ll be locked on eight points with Spartak ahead on the head-to-head record. Villarreal and Rapid would be on six and four points respectively.
That would leave Rangers needing just a point in Vienna to qualify for the last 32.
If Rangers win and Moscow-Rapid draw, then Rangers have just about qualified. All they would need to do is avoid a two-goal defeat in Austria and they would go through. If they did lose by two goals or more, they would still go through if Villarreal and Moscow drew their final group game.
A Rapid win in Russia wouldn’t be ideal. Rangers would then be on eight points, with Rapid second on seven. Villarreal would be third with six, whilst Moscow rooted to the bottom on five. The Gers, therefore, would need a point to secure qualification in Austria. If they lost, they would have to hope both Villarreal and Moscow draw their final match.
What if Rangers draw?
This is where it starts to get more tricky.
A draw with Villarreal tomorrow night puts the Gers on six points and Villarreal on seven. Whether this would be decent is dependent on the Moscow-Rapid match.
If Moscow beat Vienna, Rangers would have to win in Vienna to make sure of their place in the last 32. Anything else seriously risks qualification, as they would be relying on Moscow and Villarreal to draw in Spain.
If Vienna beat Moscow, both Rapid and Villarreal would be ahead of Rangers on seven points. The Gers would be on six heading into their final group match with Rapid. Again, a victory in Austria would guarantee qualification. A draw could potentially do the trick depending on how the head-to-heads shape up.
A draw for Rapid and Moscow? It all remains the same heading into final day. A win would in Austria would guarantee qualification, whilst a draw would leave Gers wanting Villarreal to beat Spartak.
What if Rangers lose?
This is the nightmare scenario for Rangers fans.
If Rangers lose, Villarreal would be guaranteed qualification on nine points, four more than Rangers. The Gers would sit on five, and still behind Spartak Moscow regardless of what happens in the Spartak-Vienna match.
If Rapid win in Moscow, however, they would also leap above Rangers on seven points. It would mean Rangers would have to win in Vienna and hope that Spartak don’t get anything at Villarreal.
Should Moscow beat Rapid, however, then that changes things. Rangers would be knocked out. Moscow’s superior head-to-head record will have done the damage, and Rangers would face a dead-rubber in Austria
A draw between Moscow and Rapid would have Moscow one point ahead of Rangers with Vienna level. A win in Austria would be enough so long as Spartak didn’t win Spain. A draw on the final match-day would see Rangers knocked out.
It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, and difficult to remember. It’s easiest to just come back and check after the game to see where the club sits.