Who could Rangers face in the Europa League last 16?


Sports Mole takes a look at which teams Rangers could face in the last 16 of the Europa League.

As the Europa League playoff round has now come to a close, Rangers supporters will be keen to discover who they will face in the last 16.

The Gers made a real statement by beating German giants Borussia Dortmund 6-4 on aggregate, winning the first leg 4-2 in Germany before playing out an enthralling 2-2 draw at Ibrox on Thursday, with club captain James Tavernier the standout performer with three goals across the two legs.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst‘s men are now an unseeded team for Friday’s 11am draw in Nyon, along with the seven other clubs who successfully progressed from the playoff round. The Glasgow giants will host the first leg at Ibrox on March 10, before travelling away for the second leg on March 17.

Rangers will be drawn against one of eight teams who finished top of their Europa League group, and here, Sports Mole takes a look at who they could come up against.


Lyon (France)

Olympique Lyonnais' Lucas Paqueta celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on January 9, 2022© Reuters

Rangers could lock horns with Ligue 1 outfit Lyon once again, having already faced them twice in Group A earlier this season.

Les Gones breezed through the group stage after accumulating 16 points from a possible 18 available, more than any other team in this year’s competition.

Rangers suffered a 2-0 defeat at Ibrox against Lyon in September, but they managed to end the French side’s perfect record by playing out a 1-1 draw away from home just before Christmas.

Lyon, who are one of the favourites to go all the way this year, have never won the Europa League but did reach the semi-finals in 2016-17, losing to Ajax over two legs.


Monaco's Youssouf Fofana celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on November 25, 2021© Reuters

Another French team who Rangers could be drawn against are Monaco, who topped Group B after winning and drawing three games each, finishing above Real Sociedad, PSV Eindhoven and Sturm Graz.

The Monegasques’ resilient backline was only breached on four occasions in the group stage, a defensive feat which was only bettered by West Ham United in this year’s competition, though the goals were conceded in four separate games.

Monaco were a Champions League regular between 2014-15 and 2018-19, and surprisingly reached the semi-finals in 2016-17, but this year they are competing in the Europa League for just the second time in their history.

Rangers have faced Monaco on four previous occasions, winning 6-4 on aggregate in the 1961-62 European Cup preliminary round, before drawing 1-1 in France and winning 2-0 at home in the 2000-01 Champions League group stage.


Spartak Moscow's Mikhail Ignatov celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on September 30, 2021© Reuters

For the first time in over a decade, 22-time Russian champions Spartak Moscow will be competing in the knockout rounds in European competition.

However, given the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it remains to be seen whether any teams will be travelling to or competing against Russian opposition in the coming weeks.

The Gladiators were underdogs to advance from Group C, but they surprisingly finished at the top of the pile, ahead of Serie A giants Napoli and Premier League outfit Leicester City, winning three and drawing one of their six group games.

Spartak locked horns with Rangers in the 2018-19 Europa League group stage; the Russians drew 0-0 at Ibrox before winning 4-3 on home soil, but neither side managed to progress to the knockout rounds on that occasion.


Eintracht Frankfurt's Evan Ndicka celebrates scoring their second goal with Timothy Chandler on November 28, 2021© Reuters

Eintracht Frankfurt are one of four teams – along with Lyon, Monaco and Galatasaray – who successfully went through this year’s Europa League group stage without suffering a single defeat.

The Eagles finished at the summit of Group B, ahead of Olympiacos, Fenerbahce and Royal Antwerp after winning and drawing three games each.

Frankfurt, who reached the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2018-19, faced Rangers twice back in the 1959-60 European Cup, winning 12-4 on aggregate in the semi-finals, before losing the final 7-3 against Real Madrid.


Galatasaray (Turkey)

Galatasaray's Taylan Antalyali celebrates their second goal with teammates on November 25, 2021© Reuters

Rangers could face the daunting trip to Turkish giants Galatasaray, who are known to have one of the most hostile atmospheres in European football.

The Turkish giants surprisingly topped Group E, finishing ahead of Lazio, Marseille and Lokamotiv Moscow with 12 points from a possible 18 available.

Galatasaray claimed four points against Rangers in the 2000-01 Champions League group stage, and finished above them to qualify for the knockout rounds. However, in last season’s Europa League qualification rounds, the Gers were able to get revenge as they won 2-1 on home soil, with goals from Scott Arfield and James Tavernier eliminating the Turks from Europe.

Domenec Torrent‘s side have already faced Scottish opposition this season, beating St Johnstone 5-3 on aggregate in the Europa League third qualifying round back in August.


Red Star Belgrade Radovan Pankov celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

For the first time this century, Serbian outfit Red Star Belgrade will be competing in the last 16 in European competition.

The 1990-91 European Cup winners were drawn into a seemingly favourable Group F with Braga, FC Midtjylland and Ludogorets, but they only just scraped through as group winners, finishing one point above Braga in second and two ahead of Midtjylland.

Red Star have battled with Rangers on seven previous occasions over the last 60 years, including a narrow 1-0 defeat on aggregate against the Scottish giants in the 2007-08 Champions League playoffs, with Nacho Novo scoring the only goal on that occasion.


Bayer Leverkusen's Jonathan Tah and Moussa Diaby celebrate with teammates on November 4, 2021© Reuters

Rangers could renew hostilities with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, who eliminated Steven Gerrard‘s men 4-1 on aggregate in the last 16 two years ago.

The Eternal Bridesmaids finished top of their Europa League group for the third time in four years, winning four of their six Group F matches and ended up three points clear of Real Betis in second.

Two of their four victories were against Rangers’ Old Firm rivals Celtic, comfortably winning 4-0 at Parkhead in September before securing a 3-2 win on home soil two months later.

Leverkusen’s only European success was back in 1987-88 when they won the UEFA Cup, beating Espanyol 3-2 on penalties.


West Ham United (England)

West Ham United's Craig Dawson celebrates scoring their first goal with Kurt Zouma, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio on February 19, 2022© Reuters

Arguably the most challenging draw could be against Premier League outfit West Ham United, managed by Glasgow-born David Moyes.

Competing in the Europa League for the very first time, the Hammers breezed through Group H and finished at the summit ahead of Dinamo Zagreb, Austria Vienna and Genk.

‘The Battle of Britain’ could take place in the last 16, with West Ham – who are currently challenging for the top four in the English top flight – one of the favourites to win this year’s competition.

The Gers have only met the East Londoners once before in their history, winning 3-2 at Ibrox in the semi-finals of the Tennent Caledonian Cup pre-season tournament back in 1979.


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