Rangers UEFA key dates as club prepare for Champions League path that could lead to Europa League

Rangers players have already circled June 27 on their calendars as the dreaded date for a return to pre-season.

It’s the summer chore they usually hate after a well-deserved break, although skipper James Tavernier keeps judging by photos of him training with a personal trainer in Dubai.

But for the Ibrox Legions, the dates they are considering go beyond this first day for Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men.

Instead, it’s another European trip they’re excited about less than a month after their Europa League final experience in Sevilla.

But this is the first UEFA competition they hope to see their team involved in rather than the second tier tournament.

Steven Gerrard’s men suffered a blow in their Champions League bid last season when they lost to Malmö in the third qualifying round.

And they enter the same stage again hoping history doesn’t repeat itself as they seek to join rivals Celtic in the group stage.

Champions League

Rangers join the League Path and the good news is that they will be ranked which means, on paper at least, they should pick up a favorable tie.

The draw will take place on July 18, with the first legs taking place on August 2 and 3 and the second leg a week later.

Potential opponents

Who can the Rangers face? This is the crucial point. Despite being seeded, the Ibrox still face a tricky tie with Monaco, Sturm Graz, Union Saint-Gilloise and the winner of the game involving Midtjylland, who will face Fenerbahce and AEK Larnaca, on the prowl.

All games that on paper at least, the Rangers would like to have their chances.

But IF the Light Blues can get through this, they will already know their opponents with the draw taking place on August 2 and the games scheduled for August 23 and 24.

PSV Eindhoven or Dinamo Kyiv would then be their likely rivals for a group stage shot – or whoever progressed from those third qualifying round matches.

Get through it all – it sounds so simple – and the group stage draw will take place on August 25 with matchday one on September 6-7.

Europa League

However, the other good news for Rangers is that even if they lose in the third round of the Champions League qualifiers, they would fall straight into the Europa League group stage.

That’s because they won’t go through the champions path in the qualifying stages.

Teams defeated from the third qualifying round on this path fall into the Europa League knockout round, which could eventually lead to a parachute drop into the Europa Conference League.

The draw for the Europa League group stage will take place on August 26 and the first group game will take place on September 8.

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