Kris Commons thinks Rangers can go far in the Europa League
Former Scotland international Kris Commons predicts big things for Rangers in the Europa League this season.
Steven Gerrard’s side topped their group and travel to Royal Antwerp on Thursday.
The Gers made the round of 16 last season last season before losing to Bayer Leverkusen, but Commons thinks they are capable of progressing further this time.
He told the Daily Record, “This could be exactly the sort of game which sparks Rangers’ season back into life.
“They’ve been outstanding in Europe throughout Steven Gerrard’s time at the club and they will rightly have ambitions of going deep into this year’s tournament.
“They are good enough to be eyeing up the quarter-finals at the very least.
“Last season, Rangers were unfortunate to come up against a very classy side in Bayer Leverkusen.
“But Rangers are a better team now than they were last season.
“Gerrard’s side are well-equipped for an assault on this season’s competition. A positive result against the Belgians on Thursday would set them on their way.”
Finding an extra level
Rangers return to the Europa League off the back of some sketchy performances.
We have only scored three goals in our last three games – one was an own goal and another a 25-yard strike.
We have to improve significantly to get a result in Belgium.
Gerrard has shown he can get big performances out of his players, both domestically and in Europe.
We beat Celtic last month and stepped up our game in beating Standard Liege and drawing twice with Benfica in the group stage earlier in the season.
Furthermore, we have got past this round of the competition before – beating Braga 4-2 on aggregate last year.
We share Commons’ confidence, particularly as we have been so good defensively this season.
Antwerp have injuries in attack too so keeping a clean sheet must be the target.
Alfredo Morelos’ return could have a positive impact too and if we manage to get an away goal we will be strong favourites ahead of the return leg at Ibrox next week.
Beyond this tie it is difficult to predict our chances.
We can compete against any team in the competition but if we draw a team like Bayer Leverkusen we will be in for a tough challenge.
Stevie G is likely taking each game as it comes, and that might be the best way of handling the knockout stages.