If Malmo defeated...
Olympiakos or Ludogorets lie in wait for Rangers
Euro vision: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group).
Rangers will face Olympiakos or Ludogorets for a place in the Champions League group phase should they overcome Malmo.
The Ibrox club’s path to the lucrative stages of the competition has become clearer after today’s draw for the play-off round in Nyon, Switzerland.
Steven Gerrard’s side have to negotiate two rounds of qualifying to make the groups, their first challenge kicking off in Sweden tomorrow evening.
If they can defeat Malmo – the return leg of their third qualifying round clash is at Ibrox on Tuesday, 10 March – they will progress to the play-offs later this month where Greeks Olympiakos or Ludogorets from Bulgaria lie in wait.
Rangers are due to be at home for the first leg of the play-off, scheduled for August 17/18 with the second leg taking place seven days later.
Six teams will qualify from the play-offs and join the 26 sides who automatically qualified for the groups
Should Rangers lose to Malmo, they will drop into the play-off round of the Europa League and will face either Kazakhstan’s Kairat or Armenia’s Alashkert in a Europa League play-off.
Gerrard has a selection headache for the clash in Sweden, with suspension ruling out Glen Kamara, Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe. Ianis Hago is also also likely to miss out after being injured in the season opener against Livingston, while Alfredo Morelos is in quarantine after returning from Copa America duty with Colombia.
Looking ahead to the Malmo game, the Rangers boss said: “I think Malmo are an impressive team, very fit and work hard for the manager. It will be a big challenge for us but one that we are very excited about.
“We want to try and be the best version of ourselves over the course of the season, all of our focus is on Malmo and dealing with the first 90 minutes to set it up for Ibrox. We go over in a good place.
“Every player has a big motivation in Europe to test themselves against the best players. We have been on some exciting European journeys so far and we hope for another one this year.”
Champions League play-off draw
Malmo (Sweden) or Rangers v Olympiakos (Greece) or Ludogorets 1945 (Bulgaria)
Europa League play-off draw
Jablonec (Czech Republic) or Celtic v AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)
Malmo (Sweden) or Rangers v Kairat Almaty (Kazakhstan) or Alashkert (Armenia)
Randers (Denmark) v Galatasaray (Turkey) or St Johnstone
Europa Conference League play-off draw
Bohemian (Ireland) or PAOK (Greece) v Hibernian or Rijeka (Croatia)
Jablonec or Celtic v Tobol Kostanay (Kazakhstan) or Zilina (Slovakia)
Limassol (Cyprus) or Qarabag (Azerbaijan) v Breidablik (Iceland) or Aberdeen
Vojvodina (Serbia) or LASK (Austria) v Galatasaray or St Johnstone