The best and worst draws Rangers could get in the Europa League semi-finals

For the first time since 2008, Rangers are through to the last eight of a European competition.

They saw off Red Star Belgrade in Serbia to achieve a 4-2 aggregate win after romping the first leg 3-0 at Ibrox and they’re into the hat for Friday’s draw.

It’s a major achievement for Gio van Bronckhorst and his team and the once fanciful dream of going all the way to Seville is now tantalisingly close.

The draw in Nyon will map out their route with the draw for the semi-finals coming straight after the quarters.

It means Gers will know not only who they will face in the last eight, but which other tie they will face the winner of should they advance to the final four.

There are no easy draws left and whoever they get in the quarters will provide another stern test.

But Record Sport have taken a look at the potential semi-finalists – and who Rangers will be keen to draw, and who they will want to avoid at all costs.

Best – Braga

Manager: Carlos Carvalhal

Star man: Ricardo Horta

Last 5 games : WDDWL

The Portuguese side will be well known to Rangers, having faced them as recently as February 2020 in the round of 32, with Steven Gerrard’s team battling to victories in both legs back then.

They’ve been in decent form since with third and fourth-placed finishes in the Portuguese league respectively, while they’ve also won both domestic cups in Portugal.

They’re an experienced Europa League campaigner and eliminated Monaco to get here, but they’re no great shakes, and even with the scintillating form of captain Ricardo Horta, they’ve found goals hard to come by recently. They’re one of the few teams left Rangers would be favourites to eliminate.

Worst – West Ham

Manager : David Moyes

Star man : Declan Rice

Last 5 games : LLLWW

A potential battle of Britain would get Rangers fans salivating but competitively, West Ham will be a tough nut to crack for whoever they face.

Anyone who can break Sevilla’s grip on the Europa League must have some serious cojones, after all, and West Ham did just that as they fought back from a first-leg deficit to send the Spanish side packing.

They had one of the more favourable groups with Dinamo Zagreb, Rapid Vienna and Genk, but they won it in commanding style with four wins and just a single defeat.

And while their domestic form has taken a bit of a dip recently, they’re still well in contention for the top four in England. Their turnaround under David Moyes has been remarkable and this one would be a real battle.

Best – Lyon

Manager: Peter Bosz

Star man: Houssem Aouar

Last 5 games: DWWLD

A reunion could be on the cards after the sides met in Rangers’ group. Lyon grabbed the win at Ibrox but it was a rotated Gers side who snatched a point over in France.

Back then manager Bosz was under pressure and there’s been little improvement in Ligue 1 as they sit in 10th.

It could also mean another meeting with former Celtic striker and frequent derby day scorer Moussa Dembele.

Having got a point the last time, could they go one better in the quarter-final?

Worst – Barcelona

Manager: Xavi Hernandez

Star man: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Last 5 games: WWDWW

A laughing stock among Europe’s superclubs in the first half of the season, club legend Xavi has overseen a rebuild in which green shoots of recovery are now visible.

Overcome by Bayern and Benfica in their Champions League group, they’re not used to being in this competition and did stumble in last week’s 0-0 draw at home to Galatasaray but recovered well in an often hostile Istanbul atmosphere.

They’re nowhere near the team they were a decade ago but would still represent a massive challenge in the latter stages of the competition.

Best – Eintracht Frankfurt

Manager: Oliver Glasner

Star man: Filip Kostic

Last 5 games: LWWWD

In the process of turning around a disappointing Bundesliga campaign that has them ninth, Frankfurt surprised many by seeing off Real Betis.

They suffered heartbreak in the 2018-19 Europa League semi-finals, losing out to Chelsea on penalties before the Blues took down Arsenal in Baku.

Topped their group consisting of Olympiacos, Fenerbache and Royal Antwerp so while domestic form suggests they wouldn’t be the toughest side they’ve got this far for a reason.

Worst – RB Leipzig

Manager: Domenico Tedesco

Star man: Christopher Nkunku

Last 5 games: WWWDW

A poor start to the season led to American boss Jesse Marsch’s dismissal but the Red Bull affiliate are in fizzing form under his replacement Tedesco.

They were given a walkover to the quarters when Spartak Moscow were thrown out by UEFA and hit Greuther Furth for six at the weekend as they fight to secure a top four finish.

Rangers fans will remember their subzero friendly at Red Bull Arena back in January 2017 and it’s a marker of how far the club has come since that they could now face them in the latter stages of European competition.

Best – Atalanta

Manager: Gian Piero Gasperini

Star man: Ruslan Malinovskyi

Last 5 games: WLWDW

Famed for entertaining football under veteran boss Gasperini, the Serie A side’s rags to riches tale make them a neutral’s favourite.

But while they overcame Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 domestically they face an uphill struggle to return to the Champions League, currently sitting sixth.

They’d still be a tough draw with Ukrainian playmaker Malinovskyi and Colombian strike duo Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata a formidable triple threat. Given the rest of the opponents, it might be a test Rangers fancy.

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