By Joe Ellis

19th Apr, 2022 | 3:10pm

Willie Mathieson sees similarities between Rangers and Barca Bears

Rangers are in a European semi-final for the first time since 2008 and it will be RB Leipzig who stands in their way on the road to the Europa League final.

The Gers needed extra time to be Braga in the quarter-final having previously dislodged Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade in prior rounds.

There are some remarkable similarities though with this team, and the run they’ve been on in Europe this season, and that of the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup-winning Light Blues side.

Left-back for the ‘Barca Bears’, as they were known, was Willie Mathieson and he thinks a Europa League victory is written in the stars 50 years on from his own triumph.

“The current team are on the same sort of journey we had,” Mathieson said to the Scottish Daily Express. “Maybe it’s meant to be for them, fingers crossed!

“They’re facing a German side in the semis just like we did and the final is in Spain like it was in 1972 so there are quite a few similarities.

“It would be sensational if they could do it – especially 50 years after we did it.”

No free win

History might suggest that this path is remarkably similar to that of the Barca Bears but that doesn’t automatically mean they’ll achieve the same result.

Anything less than the absolute best will see Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side crash out of Europe and kiss goodbye any hopes of making Scottish football history this season.

RB Leipzig will pose a very tough opposition and with Christopher Nkunku being one of the world’s most in-form players, the Gers will have to be extra aware of the threats posed by the Germans.

To make matters even harder for Rangers, they have the small matter of an Old Firm derby against Celtic at Parkhead sandwiched in between the two legs of the Europa League semi-final too.

If any week was to define the entire season, this is it and van Bronckhorst will either be a hero or villain by the time the final whistle goes in the second leg against the Bundesliga side.

In other Rangers news, Fashion Sakala has taken a dig at Celtic on his Instagram with a brutal image and caption.