Rangers’ Champions League campaign has been a horror, and it’s on its way to being the worst Champions League campaign in the history of the competition, with only a couple of clubs, in total, having equal losses and goal concessions to Rangers, having played all 6 group matches.
In Rangers’ case, there’s two more to go, and it’s safe to say next fortnight’s trip to Italy is lambs to the slaughter where Giovanni’s side have less chance than they’ve had till present as the in-form Neapolitans host the most cannon fodder side the UCL has ever seen.
Ok, now we’ve painted that bleak picture, we’d like to ask you what else you expected?
We gave two of the matches a go, and got roundly thumped in both (Napoli and Liverpool) and we were meek and pathetic in two and got roundly thumped in both (Ajax and Liverpool).
But as we warned repeatedly before this competition started, the hike from UEL to UCL was catastrophic to Rangers, a club who only got promoted back into the SPL 6 years ago.
Our return to the UCL was not a team prepared for the calibre of side we’d face at that level, it was nothing more than a learning experience, and a goal scored or a point gained was a colossal bonus.
Celtic, frankly, are not far different – they have only a single goal in open play (unless you count an OG) and they too have returned to this competition after half a decade, and they’re being mown over as well. Sure, maybe not by as many goals, but it’s 12 years away from the UCL for us, it’s just 5 for them. And both of us are utterly out of our depth.
And we didn’t expect a thing here on Ibrox Noise.
We wanted our side to at least fight – and for two of the matches they have.
They’ve given us a bit more overall for those two. But for those whining after Ajax and Liverpool ‘that I can handle losing as long as we try’, well, that’s basically not true, is it. When we lose, and badly, you still gripe about it even if we try.
But this is the UCL – it’s the big boys, and we absolutely warned that this was out of our depth.
We suggested in the past that the last 16 of the UEL was fractionally about the same level as the third round of qualifying for the UCL, and we kept losing the former until we cracked it last season.
The playoff in the UCL (PSV) is about the level of the Europa League final (Eintracht), that’s how far beyond the UEL the UCL actually is.
PSV were about equal to Eintracht overall, in Europe anyway. And having lost to Eintracht we learned enough to overcome PSV.
But then it was deeply, deeply uncharted territory in the group stage.
And we predictably drowned, with players miles below the level needed and a manager who is, admittedly, completely out of his depth too.
It’s not nice, it’s a bloody nose, and it will sting.
But it’s the UCL after 12 years.
Did you expect a walk in the park?