Rangers vs FC Alashkert: Who are the Armenian side and how can the Gers beat them?

The Gers get ready to do battle again on Thursday evening.

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

After Celtic’s commanding 2-0 win over AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday night, it’s now Rangers’ turn to launch their bid for Europa League qualification.

Standing in their way is FC Alashkert, an Armenian side who played a grand total of 29 continental matches in their history.

Sign up to our GlasgowWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But who are Thursday’s visitors to Ibrox, and more importantly, how can the Gers get the better of them?

We’ve gathered all the information you need to know below...

Who are FC Alashkert?

Alashkert were founded in 1990 and are based in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. Despite that, they are named after the historic Western Armenian town of Alashkert, now Eleşkirt, in Eastern Turkey.

The club actually folded around the turn of the millennium, but were reborn in 2011 under the supervision of businessman Bagrat Navoyan, and have gone on to enjoy an admirable level success since then, winning the Armenian top flight four times since 2016, including last season.

This will not be the first time that Alashkert have faced a Scottish side in their history either. Their first ever Europa League campaign saw them knock St. Johnstone out over two legs in the opening stages of the qualification process back in 2015/16.

The Armenians are bidding to reach the group stage of the Europa League for the first time in their history.

James Tavernier of Rangers. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

How can Rangers beat FC Alashkert?

Make no mistake, Rangers are big favourites heading into this one.

Anything but progression over two legs would be deemed a massive opportunity missed, but that doesn’t mean that the Gers will have things all their own way.

After all, we’re talking about a reigning champion who have already knocked Kazakh outfit FC Kairat out of the Europa League after their own Champions League bid was stopped in the second round.

There is some good news for Rangers, however.

For one thing, Alashkert have started their domestic campaign off at a snail’s pace, losing both of their opening two matches, and conceding five goals without reply in the process.

In fact, it would appear that their defensive unit has been an ongoing point of weakness for the Armenians.

Speaking recently to the Glasgow Times, Aram Basmajian of Football Kentron, an English language podcast dedicated to the Armenian game said: “Alashkert has one clear weakness and that’s the defensive line.

“It was simply woeful last season, and that is still the case now.”

He added: “[They are] Very shaky in defence, but still dangerous to any team on a good day.

“Considering both team’s strengths and weaknesses, Rangers will most likely score more than two goals in each game.”

Alashkert tend to utilise a 4-3-3, with a real focus on crowding the centre of the park.

Given Rangers’ strength in wide areas and the quality of delivery that the likes of James Tavernier and Borna Barisic often provide, it’s easy to imagine Steven Gerrard focusing his efforts on exploiting Thursday’s opponents out on the flanks.

Another key battle will be the tussle for supremacy in the engine room itself, and without Glen Kamara once again, the Gers will have to be on their toes.

If the likes of Steven Davis, John Lundstram, and Joe Aribo play to the best of their abilities, however, Gerrard’s men should have too much for their plucky visitors. Emphasis on the word “should”.