How Rangers Winning the UEL Final Would be a Boost for the Scottish Premiership's Reputation

Ismail Ansar

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How Rangers Winning the UEL Final Would be a Boost for the Scottish Premiership's Reputation

Rangers take on German Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday in the Europa League final, with the chance for Rangers players' to write their names into the clubs’ history books forever with a win.

It is the first European final that the club are playing in for 14 years, with their last European final appearance also coming in this competition (then known as the UEFA Cup) in 2008.

On that occasion, the Light Blues were unable to secure victory at the final stage, with goals from Igor Denisov and Konstantin Zyryanov helping Zenit Saint Petersburg to a 2-0 win. But on Wednesday night, Rangers have a chance to right the wrongs of 2008 and lift their first piece of European silverware in 50 years.

Europa League Final Tips

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RANGERS TO WIN & BTTS @ 9/2

Rangers’ run to the Final

After barely overcoming Armenian side Alashkert in qualifying, Rangers were placed in Group A. Their campaign didn't get off to the best start with two defeats in their opening two games, with a 2-0 defeat at home to Lyon before succumbing to a 1-0 loss away to Sparta Prague.

Gers finally picked up their first win in the group on Matchday three by defeating Danish side Brondby 2-0, before being held to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture two weeks later. They then beat Sparta 2-0 in the penultimate group stage game, before finishing the group stages with another 1-1 draw, this time to Lyon. Ultimately, they finished second in the group with eight points - just enough to qualify for the knockout phase.

For their effort, Rangers were handed a tie against tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund in the knockout round play-offs, who had dropped down from the Champions League.

They stunned Marco Rose's side with a 4-2 smash-and-grab win in the Westfalenstadion, before being held to a 2-2 draw in the return leg, meaning that they had advanced to the round-of-16, where they were drawn against Serbia's Red Star Belgrade. They triumphed 4-2 on aggregate over the two legs and were drawn against Portuguese outfit Braga in the quarter-finals.

Despite a 1-0 loss at the Estadio Municipal in the first leg, two goals from James Tavernier and a late strike in extra-time from Kemar Roofe in the return fixture ensured that Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side made it through to the semi-finals.

Next up was another Bundesliga outfit in RB Leipzig. A stunning late Angelino strike gave Leipzig the advantage going into the second leg, but a spirited 3-1 win, including a late John Lundstram winner, sent Ibrox into raptures and would see the Scottish club in the final come May 18th.

The mere fact that Rangers were able to hold their own against some of the best sides in other European leagues, such as Dortmund and RB Leipzig, is a seriously impressive achievement.

Other sides such as Red Star Belgrade and Braga, whilst not possessing the high calibre of players that others do, are still relatively tough teams to come up against. Braga do have some talented players among their squad and Red Star have one of, if not the, most intimidating atmospheres in world football – Rangers did well to get results against these sides.

They have shown extraordinary resilience and mental strength during these matches, as although in the quarter and semi-finals they lost the first leg, they put in amazing second leg performances to ensure their advancement to the next round. When they went to extra-time against Braga, they dug deep and managed to find a way to win.

Europa League Final Tips

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JAMES TAVERNIER TO SCORE ANYTIME @ 4/1

How it Helps the Scottish Premiership

If Rangers were to go all the way in Seville and get their hands on the Europa League, it would be a huge marketing tool for the Scottish league. It has been a long time since a Scottish side has lifted a European cup, with the last time coming 39 years ago in 1983, when Aberdeen won the European Cup Winners’ Cup in May and the European Super Cup 6 months later in November.

The chance to break that nearly 40-year record of no continental success for Scottish clubs would be a huge asset for Rangers when, for example, negotiating the financial side of any new sponsorship deals, as the ability to point to recent silverware would help. A win in the final would also boost the Scottish league’s reputation as Rangers would be able to point to their success in comparison to some of Europe’s other “big” clubs who haven’t won the Europa League, for example, Lyon.

And as the winners of the Europa League are then given a pass into the Champions League, Scotland could have its two biggest clubs in Europe’s premier competition next season for the first time since the 2007-08 campaign – and for Rangers, it would be their first appearance in the competition since 2010.

For winning the Europa League, Rangers would be given prize money for their success. But because the Europa League winners then qualify for next season’s Champions League, they also receive the money for Champions League qualification, which can be very lucrative.

Furthermore, they will face the winners of the Liverpool-Real Madrid Champions League final in the UEFA Super Cup in August – again, there is prize money for competing and winning that game, and just for their appearance.

It could ultimately prove to be a very profitable summer for Rangers, and they could then use that money for purchasing new players. They can afford to pay bigger transfer fees and higher wages than usual – this could be used in convincing different types of players, for example, young prospects with high potential or experienced older players who are looking for a slower league to play in.

With Rangers potentially being able to attract these kinds of players, there is potential for the league to grow, as ultimately, league champions Celtic will also have to further improve on what has been an impressive season for them.

With the introduction of a new European competition in the form of the UEFA Europa Conference League, it has meant that many clubs who never had a chance of playing European football now can do so.

Clubs such as Slovenian minnows NS Mura or Bundesliga side Union Berlin, who do not usually get the chance to play in European competition, now can. And this can give fans of that club great memories and experiences – fans of Mura will surely never forget their 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur.

So with this new competition, it means that Scottish teams who consistently finish in the top 6 now have the chance to play in European competition. Dundee United have managed to qualify for the Conference League third qualifying round for next season, and Hearts have a spot in the Europa League play-off round.

If clubs like these are able to play in European competition, then they may be able to attract players they want that usually they wouldn’t be able to, as they could now offer European football to those players.

Ultimately, a win for Rangers on May 18th is not just a win for them but is it a win for all of Scottish football. For many years, the Scottish Premiership has been the subject of derision and criticism due to its one-team dominance and lack of quality players. But a win for Rangers at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday could change that.

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