By Ben Wild

14th Dec, 2020 | 9:00pm

Thomas Buffel fires Rangers warning ahead of EL clash with Royal Antwerp

Former Rangers midfielder Thomas Buffel has given his old side a warning after the Gers drew Royal Antwerp in the Europa League round of 32. 

The Gers avoided a tricky draw against Arsenal as they finished top of their group but Buffel has warned that his former side will still face strong opposition.

Speaking to GVA, Buffel claimed that the Gers face a tougher test compared to when they faced Standard Liege in the group stage and suggested that some in Europe may have forgotten about Rangers.

He said, “Unlike Standard, Antwerp does have some seasoned players. Mbokani and Refaelov have already earned their stripes on the European podium. They themselves will have to make the difference.”

“As a result [of demotion] many have forgotten what kind of institution Rangers actually is. Imagine that Anderlecht or Club Brugge have the same thing, and have to start over in provincial leagues from one day to the next.

“It gives me a great feeling to see one of my favourite clubs achieve success again. It takes time to get rid of the budgetary backlog with Celtic. But in the meantime Rangers are again meeting the better clubs in Europe.”

The importance of finishing top of the group was highlighted after second-placed Benfica were drawn against Arsenal on Monday.

Despite their poor league start, Mikel Arteta’s side pose more of a threat to the Gers than Royal Antwerp on paper.

Ivan Leko’s side currently sits in seventh position in the Belgian Pro League level on points with Standard Liege, who the Gers defeated twice in the group stage.

While the draw against the Belgian side presents an easier draw for Rangers, there are no poor teams in the knockout stages of the Europa League and many teams will want to be the first to inflict defeat on Gerrard’s side this season.

The Light Blues will have to be at their best when they take on Royal Antwerp and they can’t treat the game as an easy win.

In other Rangers news, Peter Crouch has made an admission about Steven Gerrard’s future.