What we know so far: The 6 Champions League third qualifying round opponents Rangers could face

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An overview of the six confirmed teams the Ibrox side could be drawn against at the third qualifying round stage.

Rangers will enter next season’s UEFA Champions League at the third qualifying round stage and their potential opponents have become clearer following the conclusion of the 2022/23 campaign.

Michael Beale’s revamped side will take their place as a seeded team in the League path of the draw as a result of finishing runners-up to Glasgow rivals Celtic last term. They will have to overcome four qualifying matches to reach the group stage of Europe’s elite club competition for a second consecutive season.

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The Ibrox side defeated Belgian outfit Union Saint-Gilloise over two legs before knocking out Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in play-off round last year to reach the last 32. However, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men earned the unwanted tag as the ‘worst ever’ team to compete in the group stages after losing all SIX games and conceding 20 goals after being drawn against Napoli. Liverpool and Ajax.

Rangers will hope for a more favourable draw this time around if they manage to emulate last season and Beale’s new-look squad will be confident against whoever they come up against in the third qualifying round. Here, GlasgowWorld profiles the six teams Rangers could face:

SK Sturm Graz - Austria

  • Manager: Christian Ilzer
  • Ground: Merkur Arena (16,364 capacity)
  • Nickname: Die Schwoazn
APA/AFP via Getty Images

Rangers previous meeting against the Austrian Bundesliga side came in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League. The Ibrox side ran out 5-0 winners in the home game before drawing 2-2 away.

A 3-1 aggregate defeat to Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv in the third qualifying round last year saw them drop into the Europa League group stages where they finished bottom of the four-team pool after collecting eight points from six matches against Feyenoord, FC Midtjylland and Lazio.

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FK TSC Bačka Topola - Serbia

  • Head Coach: Žarko Lazetić
  • Ground: TSC Arena (4,500 capacity)
  • Nickname: N/A

The Serbian minnows are a relatively new club founded in 2015 and will play in European competition for just the second time under the FK TSC name. Having qualified for the Europa League first qualifying round in 2020 after a fourth-placed finish in the SuperLiga, the club sunk Petrocub Hîncești of Moldova before losing out to Romanian outfit FCSB.

K.R.C. Genk - Belgium

  • Manager: Wouter Vrancken
  • Ground: Cegeka Arena (23,718 capacity)
  • Nickname: Blauw-Wit (Blue-White)
Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Runners-up to Belgian champions Royal Antwerp in the Jupiler Pro League following a dramatic final day, Genk will return to European competition following a two-year hiatus.

A two-legged defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the third qualifying round saw them drop into the Europa League in season 2021/22. They would claim just five points during the group stages against West Ham, Dinamo Zagreb and Rapid Vienna which ended their involvement.

Servette - Switzerland

  • Manager: René Weiler
  • Ground: Stade de Genève (30,084 capacity)
  • Nickname: Les Grenats (The Maroons)

The Geneva-based club have had their ups and downs both on and off the pitch throughout their 133-year history. From being declared bankrupt in 2005 to competing at the top end of the Swiss Super League last season, the club have been totally rejuvenated in the space of 18 years.

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Their current squad of players includes a few familiar names to followers of British football with ex-Manchester City full-back Gaël Clichy, former Celtic loanee Moritz Bauer and one-time Newcastle United defender Kevin Mbabu among their ranks, the Swiss outfit are a team Rangers might be eager to avoid.

Panathinaikos - Greece

  • Manager: Ivan Jovanović
  • Ground: Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium (15,000)
  • Nickname: Οι Πράσινοι-I Prasini (The Greens)
AFP via Getty Images

An near ever-present on the European stage, the Greek Super League club are probably not the force they once were after a few years in the duldrums. They entered for Europa Conference League third qualifying round last term but a 3-1 aggregate loss to Czech side SK Slavia Prague cut short their return to European competition following a five-year absence.

Emerging as champions by two points to AEK Athens in last season’s top-flight, Panathinaikos are a force to be reckoned with at their best and would be tricky opponents to overcome.

SC Dnipro-1 - Ukraine

  • Head Coach: Oleksandr Kucher
  • Ground: Dnipro Arena (31,003 capacity)
  • Nickname: N/A

Finished second in the Ukrainian Premier League behind champions Shakhtar Donetsk and claimed their Champions League spot on goal difference after scoring ONE more than third-placed Zorya Luhansk.

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Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, Dnipro completed their UEFA Europa Conference League campaign in eastern Slovakia. They advanced to the knockout play-off round after finishing five points adrift of AZ Alkmaar in Group E before crashing out after a narrow two-legged defeat to AEK Larnaca of Cyprus.

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