The Resilience of European Rangers: How We Qualified

The Resilience of European Rangers: How We Qualified
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Manager of Rangers reacts with Colin Stewart at the end of the UEFA Europa League group A match between Rangers FC and Sparta Praha at Ibrox Stadium on November 25, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

With a trip to France to face Lyon in the Group A curtain-closer next in store for Rangers, the ‘Gers will have a challenge on their hands should they want to disrupt the perfect record of the French club so far in the Europa League. There will certainly be hope all over the Rangers dressing room, with a recent resurgence in form thanks to the arrival of Giovanni Van Bronckhorst putting Rangers back into a positive run of results.

Rangers are no strangers to Lyon, as they faced off earlier in the season before the arrival of Giovanni, suffering a 0-2 defeat at Ibrox in the first game of the group. Rangers then looked very flat, and somewhat limped to the final whistle. This left Rangers fans scratching their heads questioning how they would manage to pull off the tough challenge of qualification, especially with the forces of Brøndby IF and Sparta Prague still to play, the latter still fresh in the memory of Glasgow following their back-to-back 4-1 thrashings of Celtic last season.

Things went from bad to worse for Rangers in Group A, with match day 2’s trip to Prague ending in a nightmare result for Rangers, as Sparta pulled off a huge 1-0 win, leaving Rangers rock bottom of the group. At this point in time, many fans would have been putting their passports away as Lyon and Sparta Prague began to race away from the bottom half of the group. Rangers certainly had a difficult task ahead now, and their best bet of tackling this lay in their upcoming double header of matches against fellow group strugglers, Brøndby IF.

Ibrox filled for what was a crucial match of football for qualification hopes, and hope was restored in the squad, as goals from Leon Balogun and Kemar Roofe gave Rangers an impressive victory in what had been something of a lacklustre season so far excluding a few positive performances.

Rangers had it all to do once again, this time in Denmark, with the job of avoiding defeat away to Brøndby IF vital in Rangers’ bid for group survival. It was a nervy affair for the Rangers fans, but they would live to hope another day as a second-half strike from Ianis Hagi earned Rangers a very valuable 1-1 draw, setting up a mouth-watering clash against Sparta Prague at Ibrox.

The reason for the excitement around the game was simple. A win for the visiting Prague side would secure their spot in the next round of the Europa League, however a win for Rangers by two or more goals (this due to the 1-0 defeat to Sparta Prague earlier mentioned) would cement our qualification spot.

The responsibility of the game landed on the shoulders of new manager van Bronckhorst, who was taking charge of his first game for the all-important clash. With plenty of odds stacked against the new-look Rangers, the ‘Gio Era’ got off to a triumphant start with Rangers seeing off Sparta Prague in a fantastic 2-0 win, securing the next round of the Europa League, and defying all the doubts of the critics from the two opening defeats.

This rise from being down and out, to being qualified with a game to spare proved the true resilience that still runs through this Rangers squad. This is clearly being capitalised on by the new manager, pulling off a great run of domestic form since the fantastic European result.

With qualification in the bag, fans will be excited to see if GVB and his squad of fighters can put the icing on the cake with a mightily impressive result in France, before Rangers start to think about who they will be taking on in the next round of the competition.

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