This article was originally published on the evening of Tuesday 7 December 2010 on one of the most popular Rangers websites, Rangers Media. You can view the article, published on the site, just before Bursaspor Vs Rangers here

It is fair to say tonight’s match for Rangers is far from meaningless.

Our God’s country, Scotland is relying on it.

Scotland’s dreadful record in Europe has seen the country filter down the co efficient European rankings. This means that Scotland’s champions will next year start off in the treacherous qualifying rounds of Europe’s biggest money spinner, rather than start off in a more lucrative scenario of the group stages.

Why you ask has it come to this? Scotland’s record in Europe has never been particularly good, not since the 1980’s and the days of Dundee United and Aberdeen enjoying plenty of success. There have of course been notable exceptions, such as these:

  • Rangers – 1993: One game away from Champions League Final
  • Celtic 2003 – UEFA Cup Runners up
  • Celtic 2004 – UEFA Cup Quarter Finals
  • Rangers 2006 – Champions League Last 16
  • Celtic 2007 – Champions League Last 16
  • Celtic 2008 – Champions League Last 16
  • Rangers 2008 – UEFA Cup Runners up
  • Aberdeen 2008 – UEFA Cup Last 32

Celtic and Rangers runs to the finals brilliant as they may be have been undone by the countless Scottish disasters that have embarrassed the country. Rangers route to the Europa League will be the first time that a Scottish club has stayed in Europe after Christmas for the first time in three years.

Steven Naismith scored the winner when Bursaspor visited Ibrox. He will be a key man again tonight.

Beating Bursaspor in Turkey will be no mean feat, particularly within regards to Scottish club’s away record in Europe. However, it has been a steady campaign by Rangers so far, better than the last one for sure and the opposition will be of less caliber than Manchester United.

Team News:

Walter Smith in his final season of Europe’s elite will also have his squad strengthened in reputation. The return of Madjid Bougherra to the defence is a big boost for Smith although his step up deputy, Kirk Broadfoot was the best player against Manchester United, with superb heading ability in the air.

The interesting proposal will be former England striker, James Beattie in place of Kenny Miller. No goals have come Beattie’s way and the decision could prove to be a gamble for a man who has been short on fitness lately, particularly due to his injury problems. Miller is a man who in a 4-5-1 formation, has proved time and time again to be a dangerous and proven player at international level, and the club scene.

On another note, never has there been a time when Rangers have had such a Scottish contingent. Indeed, when Rangers took to the field at Old Trafford last week, you could have been excused it was Scotland Vs England with the Blues ending the match with ten Scot’s.

The last time this sort of thing was common place at the club was ironically when Walter Smith was also in charge in his first spell at the club where Rangers tilt at Champions League glory way back in 1993 was inspired by a Scottish backbone largely due to the three foreigner rule, then in place by UEFA.

Teenager, Kyle Hutton impressed at Old Trafford last month.

Opportunities for youngsters too has come again, with the appearance of Kyle Hutton straight from the conveyor belt of the multi million academy of Murray Park, a welcome sight for youth coaches and observers alike. The 19 year old did not look out of place and tonight could start again, particularly with the continued absence of Maurice Edu.

One thing for sure, 18 year old Darren Cole, yet another youngster will be making his debut tonight in this crunch game. Opportunities alive for the young guns.

Never less, its all the three points at stake, and only a match winner will do. Scotland’s pride and reputation is at critical level.

Images credited to eurorivals.net