Who can Rangers face in the Europa League?

Last updated : 08 December 2010 By DiscoDeeJay


In Summary


We are likely to be unseeded for the round of 32. If that's the case then teams already seeded and possible opponents are:


Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting Lisbon, CSKA Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg, vfb Stuttgart, Liverpool and Porto.


Likely seeded teams and potential opponents are:


Manchester City (or Lech Poznan), Villarreal, Dynamo Kiev, PSV Eindhoven, Paris St Germain, Braga, Spartak Moscow, Basle and FC Twente. 





We remain in Europe after Christmas courtesy of the UEFA Europa League, entry to which is a reward to teams who finished 3rd in their respective Champions League Group.  


Realistically, many of us believed that this is the best that we could have hoped for at the start of this seasons campaign.


So, how will we fare in our march towards Dublin on 18 May 2011 and who will we come up against?


With four Champions League groups and twelve Europa League groups still to be finalised, there is no easy answer, but Suck has kindly asked me to try and unravel our possible future opponents, with the aid of Mystic Meg.




The Draw


The draws for the knockout rounds of the 2010/11 UEFA club competitions take place on Friday 17 December at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.


The pairings for the UEFA Champions League round of 16, and for the rounds of 32 and 16 of the UEFA Europa League, will be made during ceremonies staged at UEFA, starting at 12.00CET and 13.00 respectively.


The Europa League draw will be conducted by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino and UEFA director of competitions Giorgio Marchetti, assisted by the 2011 final ambassador Ronnie Whelan.


The UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw will involve the 12 group winners and the four best third-ranked teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage, being drawn against the 12 UEFA Europa League runners-up and the other four third-place finishers from the UEFA Champions League.


Winners and runners-up from the same group cannot face each other. Group winners and the four best third-ranked UEFA Champions League sides will play the return leg at home. As with the UEFA Champions League, clubs from the same association will be kept apart.


There will then follow a draw for the UEFA Europa League round of 16, with the teams to progress from the round of 32 indicated as winners of matches 1 to 16. The first side drawn will play the first leg at home.




Will We Be Seeded?


Highly unlikely but still possible.  In order to join the 12 Europa League Winners as seeds for the round of 32, we have to be one of the 4 best 3rd ranked teams in the Champions League. 


At the moment in Group H, Braga and Arsenal are in 2nd and 3rd place, already on 9 points, so whoever finishes 3rd is guaranteed one of the four best third ranked places.


FC Twente from Group A and Rubin Kazan from Group D both finished with 6 points, as did Rangers.  Unfortunately, they both have a goal difference of -2, which is one goal better than our -3.


From Group B, Benfica also finished on 6 points, but their goal difference of -5 puts them out of the running.


In order to get that final seeding place we will need 3 results to go our way on Wednesday night.....




In Group E we need Bayern Munich to beat Basle by at least 4 goals. Given that Bayern are already assured as Group Winners and will probably play a weakened team, this is unlikely.


In Group F we need MSK Zilnia to beat Spartak Moscow by any score.  Again this is unlikely as MSK have lost all 5 games so far, with a goal difference of -15.


Even in the unlikely event of both of those results going in our favour, we would also need Ajax to draw or lose to AC Milan in Group G.




The only thing that I can see in our favour is that all 3 teams we need to do badly are away from home.




Assuming we are not seeded, who could we face in the next round of the Europa League?


As explained above, it would be one of the 12 Europa League Group Winners, or one of the 4 best 3rd ranked teams from the Champions League.


Group A... Manchester City or Lech Poznan.  City are 2 points ahead, but have to travel to Juventus, whilst Poznan are away to bottom team Salzburg.


If City win they top the League, but a draw for them and a win for Poznan would put it down to goal difference, as they matched each other head to head, both having 3-1 victories at home.


City may just have enough though, as Juve have had a poor campaign, but it's too close to call.


Group B... Bayer Leverkusen are already Group Winners with Aris Thessaloniki and Atletico Madrid fighting for 2nd place.


Group C... Sporting Lisbon are already Group Winners with Gent and Lille fighting for 2nd place.


Group D... Any one of Villareal, PAOK Salonika and Dinamo Zagreb could win the Group, but with Villareal being 1 point clear and playing bottom club Brugge, albeit in Belgium, they must be favourites to win the Group.


Group E... Dynamo Kiev and BATE Borisov both have 10 points and play their final games at home.  Another close one to call, but Kiev's better head to head might just be enough to swing it their way.


Group F... CSKA Moscow are already Group Winners and Sparta Prague Runners Up.


Group G... Zenit St Petersburg are already Group Winners with AEK Athens and Anderlecht fighting for 2nd place.


Group H... vfb Stuttgart are already Group Winners with Young Boys of Berne Runners Up.


Group I... PSV Eindhoven will win the Group, unless they lose at home by 3 goals to Metalist Kharkiv, who are guaranteed at least 2nd place.


Group J... Paris St Germain, Seville and Dortmund are all still in with a chance of winning this one.  Paris St Germain top the Group by 1 point and play whipping boys Karpaty Lviv, who have lost all 5 games so far, so must be favourites with Seville and Dortmund fighting for 2nd place.


Group K... Liverpool are already Group Winners, but any one of the other 3: Steaua Bucharest, Napoli and Utrecht could take 2nd place.  Steaua probably being favourites.


Group L... Porto are already Group Winners and Besiktas Runners Up.


4 Best Third Placed Teams From The Champions League... As stated earlier not an easy one to call, but I'd go for Braga, Spartak Moscow, Basle and FC Twente, with Rubin Kazan, Rangers, Ajax and Benfica being non seeds.




Who Do We Want To Avoid?


Without a doubt the Russians. CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg both have 100% records in the Europa League and look strong, though the next round of games will be during their winter break. We have a shocking record against Spanish teams, so best to avoid them also.


Personally, I wouldn't mind one of the Dutch teams, Liverpool, or any of the teams that fall from the Champions League.  If we get any of them, a trip to Dublin on 18 May 2011 may just be a little bit closer.