Rangers get their competitive 2019-20 campaign underway against St Joseph’s in the Europa League on Tuesday evening in Gibraltar.
Steven Gerrard’s side have had a relatively easy time of it in their friendly matches to date, winning their first open-to-the-public match 5-0 against Oxford on Sunday in front of more than 22,000.
They are expected to ease through against the outfit from Gibraltar, though, after seeing city rivals Celtic lose to Lincoln Red Imps in their first match under Brendan Rodgers in 2016, they should travel to the British enclave wary of their opponents, who had to negotiate a preliminary tie with Prishtina of Kosovo to even reach this point.
|Game||St Joseph's vs Rangers|
|Date||Tuesday, July 9|
|Time||4:55pm BST / 11:55am ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be streamed via Rangers TV.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on Premier Sports 1 and can be streamed via Premier Player HD.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Premier Sports 1||Premier Player HD|
Squads & Team News
|Position||St Joseph's squad|
|Goalkeepers||Robba, Mateo, Warwick|
|Defenders||Casciaro, Guerrero, Lobato, Serra, Villar, Torres, Cano|
|Midfielders||Rojas, Cornejo, Pedrito, Hernandez, Green, Pecci, Garro, Juanma|
|Forwards||Reyes, Duarte, Boro, Juanfri, Clinton, Ferrer|
Centre-back Ezequiel Rojas is banned after being dismissed in the second leg against Prishtina last week.
Possible St Joseph’s starting XI: Mateo; Lobato, Villar, Casciaro, Torres; Ferrer, Pecci, Juanma; Juanfi, Boro, Pedrito.
|Goalkeepers||McGregor, Foderingham, Firth|
|Defenders||Tavernier, Edmundson, Goldson, Katic, Polster, Barisic, Halliday|
|Midfielders||Jack, Davis, Ojo, Kamara, Docherty, Aribo, Arfield|
|Forwards||Stewart, Morelos, Defoe, Jones, Hastie|
Daniel Candeias, Graham Dorrans, Jason Holt and Kyle Lafferty have not been included in Steven Gerrard’s European squad along with goalkeeper Jak Alnwick.
Jamie Murphy and Jon Flanagan miss out due to injury, while Scott Arfield is just back training after playing for Canada at the Gold Cup.
Alfredo Morelos is a doubt due to injury, particularly as the match will be played on an artificial surface, while Allan McGregor returns after missing out against Oxford as a precaution.
Summer signings Sheyi Ojo and Jordan Jones are in line to start.
Possible Rangers starting XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Davis, Jack, Kamara; Ojo, Morelos, Jones
Betting & Match Odds
Rangers are massive 1/12 favourites to win this match with Bet365. St Joseph's can be backed at 18/1, while a draw is available at 10/1.
Rangers are determined to enjoy a strong run in the Europa League once more after going all the way to the group stages last season and missing out on the knockout rounds only on the final matchday.
They are forced into action against minnows St Joseph’s two days earlier than they might have expected as Gibraltar only has one stadium that meets UEFA regulations but two teams who have been drawn at home at this stage of the Europa League.
Despite playing Oxford United in a home friendly two days ago, they travel to the southern tip of Spain in confident mood after a 5-0 win, with manager Steven Gerrard pleased with the impact of his new signings in Sunday’s match.
“I thought in the main they were all very positive with their debuts. A lot of them are here with us and should play some part,” he said. “They have started very strongly, and straight away they have given me big decisions to make.
“As the weeks go by, sometimes I’m going to have to make big calls and leave big players out who are good players. But we are hoping this is going to be a 60-game season.”
Aiming to stop the Gers are St Joseph's, who overcame Prishtina 3-1 on aggregate in an ill-tempered preliminary match to reach this stage.
And now head coach Raul Procopio is aiming to replicate the most famous day in Gibraltar’s footballing history.
“If Lincoln Red Imps can beat Celtic there, why can’t we repeat that against Rangers?” he said, remembering the 2016 1-0 first-leg victory. “This is our final and the players are feeling inspired.
“We were the outsiders against Prishtina as well and each tie is 180 minutes of football. So we will play without fear and, although they are a superior team, they’ll need all their effort to beat us.”
Celtic ultimately negotiated that tie without any trouble, but Rangers would like to get their season off to a winning start and avoid what would be a humiliating result.