Why finishing top of their Europa League group still matters for Rangers

Rangers have already secured their place in the draw for the last 32 of the Europa League which will take place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on December 14.

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard urges on his players during their 3-2 Europa League win against Standard Liege at Ibrox. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard urges on his players during their 3-2 Europa League win against Standard Liege at Ibrox. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

But while Steven Gerrard’s men qualified from Group D with a game to spare by beating Standard Liege at Ibrox on Thursday night, there is still a considerable incentive for them to try and win their final fixture against Lech Poznan in Poland next week.

Rangers are currently top of the group courtesy of their superior head-to-head record against top seeds Benfica who also sealed their passage to the knockout stage on Thursday with a 4-0 home win against Lech.

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Rangers: Get the latest team news, match previews and reports

Gerrard admits he may take the opportunity to leave some of his key players out of the game in Poznan next Thursday as he manages his squad through an intense domestic schedule in December.

But winning the group would give Rangers’ seeded status in the last 32 draw, meaning they avoid teams such as Roma, Arsenal, Villarreal and some of the still to be decided third-placed sides from the Champions League groups who will drop into the Europa League. There is also a financial bonus of €500,000 for each group winner.

“We want to top the group but how we approach the game in Poznan is a decision I'll have to make in the coming days,” said Gerrard.

“I have to see how we recover and how we come through the Ross County game on Sunday.

“It's fantastic to be sitting here qualified and the aim will be to win the group – but I also have to think about the big picture.”

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