By Adefunmiloye Alani

28th Jul, 2021 | 4:58pm

Steven Gerrard wary of threat to Rangers Champions League ambitions

Rangers have not played in the group stages of the Champions League in a decade, and Steven Gerrard is wary of the daunting task ahead.

The Ibrox outfit play Malmo in Sweden next Tuesday (August 3) in the third qualifying round before hosting the second leg on August 10.

Should they progress, Rangers will advance to the Champions League play-off stages, and the manager knows getting the needed results over those four crucial games would not come easy.

Gerrard told ESPN: “Very big obstacles. The Champions League is obviously a level up from the Europa League, so we have to be ready for that. It’s going to be a tough challenge to get into that final round of qualifying, but for me, with experience you always worry about what is in front of you, so the focus is very much on trying to overcome Malmo.

“It’s been a case of us trying to grow as a group from a European point of view. Obviously, there was a major setback here before I joined the club in terms of qualification (Rangers lost to Luxembourg-based minnows Progres Niederkorn in 2017), but the club needs Europe financially and the fans also expect the team to deliver in Europe.

“We’ve had three really exciting journeys in Europe over the last three seasons, twice reaching the Europa League last 16, but it’s all about raising the bar and trying to go that one or two steps further.”

Doable

Rangers ended pre-season preparations with an emphatic 2-1 win over Real Madrid last Saturday, and it is the perfect result for us to start 2021-22.

The new Scottish Premiership campaign kicks off on Saturday against Livingston, and a victory would get our title defence off to the desired start.

We need to leave Sweden with at least a draw and some away goals in order to go into the return fixture with a huge advantage, and going all the way to the group stages would be massive.

The Light Blues have proven they are capable of playing alongside some of the continent’s heavyweights in the Europa League over the last two seasons, and we now have to take it to the next level.

Ibrox deserve to be hosting the biggest club football competition on the planet every season, and we need all the players ready and raring to go.

They have already become Gers heroes by landing title number 55 last season, and bringing Champions League football back to the stadium would further solidify their statuses in the record books.

In other Rangers news, Player wants Ibrox return in future after 2020 exit.