With the Scottish Premiership title firmly in their back pocket, Rangers now have two goals in mind.

One is cementing their domestic dominance by adding this season’s Scottish Cup to their trophy cabinet. With a defeat to St Mirren in the Betfred Cup the only blemish on their formidable record, they have their sights fixed on making amends with the big one.

Rangers win their first Scottish title in 10 years. ? pic.twitter.com/qN5zLg8Wp1

— 90min (@90min_Football) March 7, 2021

The other? That’s a little more fanciful. But the rate they’re going at, you can’t fault them for dreaming.

There isn’t a team in Europe in better form than Steven Gerrard’s Gers. Some may sneer at the standard of opposition they face in the Scottish Premiership, but they have played 45 matches so far this season and lost just one of them.

That includes their entire Europa League group campaign, which saw them face Standard Liege, Lech Poznan and Benfica.

Well done to Rangers on winning their 55th Scottish title and first in ten years! ????????#UEL pic.twitter.com/IAdsYrilTK

— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 7, 2021

Whatever standard you measure them against, that is very, very good going.

It gets even better when you look at their defensive record. Regular keeper Allan McGregor has kept 20 clean sheets so far in all competitions. He’s made 34 appearances, and let in just 23 goals.

Their hectic nature of their hammer-and-tong tie with Royal Antwerp captured the attention, but it was by no means reflective of Rangers‘ strengths. At the core of everything they do is a defence that does not budge.

All 77 goals by 20 different scorers ? Watch how Rangers won the Scottish Premiership ? pic.twitter.com/DxJVeAgwag

— BBC Sport Scotland (@BBCSportScot) March 8, 2021

Part of that is down to Gerrard’s consistency of selection. Three of their back four are virtual ever-presents. Connor Goldson doesn’t miss a game and rarely do the creatively fearsome full-back duo of Borna Barisic and James Tavernier.

The other spot rotates between Filip Helander and Leon Balogun, both of whom have looked very, very good this season.

Their record at the back stands them in good stead whoever they come up against as they pursue the unthinkable in Europe. Slavia Prague, who sent Leicester packing in the round of 32, will know they cannot rely on the sort of defensive lapses that cost the Foxes their place in this season’s competition.

The Czech league leaders pose a big ask for Gerrard’s team, but they have already beaten bigger and better. The Ibrox side have already taken care of Lech Poznan and and Standard Liege home and away, while Benfica were unable to get the better of them at any point during their group campaign, and finished beneath them in Group D.

Third time lucky for Rangers!

Scott Arfield strikes it home after Benfica made a huge stop and James Tavernier’s rebound header rattled the crossbar ? pic.twitter.com/4XjCc1utDF

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 26, 2020

After ten years as Scottish football’s laughing stock, Rangers have some way to go to fully restore their reputation. But Slavia won’t be taking them for granted – and should they advance to the next round, neither will any of the teams in the hat.

The quarter-final stage of the tournament is when silly things begin to happen. Rangers aren’t the best team in the competition, but they are a balanced unit with a steady base who can ask the question of anyone on the break.

So even if they do end up facing one of the big hitters at some stage – AC Milan or Manchester United – you’d be cautious to completely write them off.

— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 8, 2021

It seems ridiculous to ask at this juncture if they can go all the way to Gdansk. Keeping their feet on the ground has been central to their brilliance this term, and they won’t be looking past Slavia until the final whistle blows on the second leg.

But Gerrard’s team have been flying on all fronts so far, and you get the sense the best is yet to come.

How far can Rangers go in the Europa League?
Source 1


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