Former Genk #2 warns Rangers of major Champions League threat

Former Genk #2 warns Rangers of major Champions League threat
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JULY 18: Michael Beale, manager of Rangers looks on during the pre-season friendly match between Rangers and Newcastle at Ibrox Stadium on July 18, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Former Genk number two and Rangers hero Alex Rae knows only too well the gravity of Rangers’ task v the Belgians in the Champions League should they prevail against Switzerland’s Servette in the second round, for not only was he deputy to Eck 8 years ago in the Jupiler, but both of them had a huge hand in ‘creating’ Genk’s current star player and captain Bryan Heynen.

Speaking to alt index and Ibrox Noise, Rae said:

“I watched them in the Algarve last week when they played Sporting Lisbon. They have really good technicians on the ball and they carved open several opportunities even although it finished 1-1. They are very much a possession-based side and they pressed high up the pitch when Sporting had the ball so they will be difficult opponents. They are great at promoting from within. When I was there under Alex McLeish Bryan Heynen was a young up and coming player and we were confident he would go on and do well.”

With a hint of pride, he went on:

“Now he is the captain and the main man in the middle of the park. He ran the game in the Sporting friendly. He and Patrik Hrosovsky are a great combination so it will be a great challenge for the Rangers midfield if it pans out that way. I would expect them to get something in Switzerland tonight against Servette and get through to face Rangers.”

Speaking on Genk’s financial and business model Rae added:

“Genk have a great business model. They recruit really talented young boys from all over the world, allow them to flourish and then sell them on for vast profits. They sold their man striker Paul Onuachu last January to Southampton for about £15million and they didn’t have the same goals return from the player who took over Tolu Akrodare. I think it will be a really tough game for Rangers. The Belgian season starts this weekend with Genk away to RWDM so on top of the matches with Servette they will have more competitive game time than Rangers.”

And their stadium will not be friendly despite the ‘neutral’ nation of Belgium:

“It’s very lively at the stadium. They have a very vocal Ultras section behind one of the goals – a bit like the Union Bears – and it’s a good venue with brilliant facilities. The thing is Rangers need to get through and I think they have enough to do that as I have been really encouraged by the business Michael Beale has been doing.”

As for Rangers:

“I think we will see in the next couple of matches – Olympiacos and Hoffenheim – who is going to be starting the season.”

But Rae is only too well aware what is needed, and at this point in preseason, Michael Beale’s picture needs to be coming together:

“The problem is you need to hit the ground running and get into the group phase. I know that it’s liable to be either PSV Eindhoven again or Marseille in the play-off round so that’s a major challenge. But Rangers want the rewards of the Champions League money – even although they had a difficult experience last season.”

We certainly do.

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