Rangers will be seeded for the Europa League playoff should they get past Osijek and NK Maribor.
Maribor haven’t yet qualified for the playoff stage, but are likely to have too much quality for their Georgian opponents in the next round. Should that come to pass, and Rangers defeat Osijek, then a win over Maribor will see Steven Gerrard’s side seeded for the final playoff.
Given the often comically mismatched nature of Europa League qualifying, that is a very big deal. Last year, being seeded could have seen a tie against the likes of Skënderbeu Korçë, Sūduva Marijampolė or Shkëndija (us neither. Going by the tried and trusted method of assuming teams are worse the more diacritics are present in the team name. Case in point, even Fen) By contrast, unseeded teams could have faced trips to AC Milan, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, Everton and Zenit St Petersburg.
There will still be some decent outfits cutting about the unseeded spots should Rangers get that far. But there won’t be any huge teams where we’ll be right up against it, and there will be plenty of diddies that we should be able to swat aside.
Of course, getting there is the main thing. Much of Europa League qualifying depends on the luck of the draw for teams of our stature - it couldn’t have gone much better. Let’s make sure we take advantage of this opportunity.