A win for Rangers FC against Galatasaray would have a significant impact on the club and on Scottish football.
Two Scottish teams are still competing in the 2020-21 Europa League campaign: Rangers FC and Celtic. Steven Gerrard’s men have been the better side in the tournament with two convincing victories, whereas Celtic have been scraping by inferior opposition.
Both teams will be in action on Thursday as they aim to reserve their place in the prestigious group stage of the tournament. Rangers will host Turkish giants Galatasaray at Ibrox, and Celtic will take a flight to the Balkans to face Bosnian champions FK Sarajevo.
Thursday has the potential to be a special day for both clubs, but also for Scotland as a nation, and football fans across the country. When looking at the national coefficients for Europe, Scotland and Turkey are neck and neck.
At the moment, Turkey is ranked 11th and Scotland are one spot lower in 12th. Why is this important?
This is significant because nations ranked 11th and above send two clubs to the Champions League, with the second team beginning their journey in the second qualifying round.
Seeing that Rangers’ opponents hail from Turkey, Thursday’s Europa League play-off clash will be an intense derby on the pitch.
In a recent interview, as quoted by the Daily Record, Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim understands the importance of this game by saying, “if we fail, the country [Turkey] fails.”
Terim also touched on the financial rewards that would be handed to the winner of Thursday’s game, and that is something Gerrard will be keen on snapping up as well.
According to the numbers from last year, teams that qualified for the group stage received £2.5m from UEFA, as well as £515,000 for every win, and £170,000 for every draw. Group winners received an additional £900,000 for their achievement.
So, yes, Thursday will be a big day for Scotland’s two biggest clubs, and Scottish football in general. It is fair to say that Rangers and Galatasaray are essentially at the same level in terms of quality.
However, there is a great disparity in managerial experience between Terim and Gerrard. Fans should expect this to be a close encounter that can go either way.
For Rangers’ and Scotland’s sake, let’s hope Gers handle business and make another deep run in the competition as they did last term.