So finally the third round of the Champions League is drawn, and Rangers have been ‘served’ with Servette or Genk in a bit of a brutal draw really.
Let’s have a quick look at the calibre of sides we’re getting one of when the action starts next month.
Servette are a tough, tough side – they’re the Borussia Dortmund of Switzerland to Bayern in the form of the enduring Young Boys, and will be far far far from a walkover should they overcome Genk. They are well above Cedric Itten’s old side St Gallens (he’s thriving at the Wankdorff these days), and likewise the Grasshoppers of this world, and miles above Niko Katic’s hopeless Zurich.
Switzerland itself as a division is only two spots below Scotland in Europe’s enduring top 20, in 11th, and Young Boys, Itten’s current side, are a genuine European force to be reckoned with. But Servette are the potential opponent.
While they’re not filled with household names, they’re a thrifty side, runners’ up only to YB last season, and currently top of the Super League. They will be miles away from an easy opponent.
Then we have Genk…
Oh boy, this is a REAL tough one. Simply put this is the best team in Belgium, and heavy favourites to get past Servette. Not just Ianis Hagi’s old side, but the best team in the Jupiler Pro, albeit Union Saint pushing them hard for that honour and only losing out on the title last season by goal difference. Antwerp, Brugge, Gent, Anderlecht, Liege – a bunch of the illustrious sides these two sweep well past.
Genk are filled with excellent players; Tresor, El Khannouss, Paintsil, Heynen… their team is filled to the rafters with players of top calibre and Rangers have a SERIOUS task on their hands to overcome this side.
And the tough part is that’s only to get to the playoff round where even bigger tests await.
Michael Beale built this Rangers squad, with his budget, with his vision, and this is the kind of test he built it for. It’s not just about 56, it’s also about a fist in Europe too.
So we will see how the labour he’s put in and the money he’s spent comes to fruition when either Servette or more likely Genk face off against us next month.