Rangers’ return to the European stage begins on Thursday night as they host Progres Niedercorn of Luxembourg. It’s fair to say the Gers’ opponents aren’t one of the best-known names in the competition, so we thought we’d give you a handy guide to the club from a tiny town of just 1,842 souls.
Founded in 1919, Progres enjoyed their greatest success in the late 1970s and early 1980s, winning two league titles and a pair of Luxembourg Cups between 1977 and 1981, facing Real Madrid in the first round of the European Cup during that period.
However, the Niedercorn club have endured pretty lean times since, having failed to lift a major honour in the last 35 years. However, top-four league finishes in 2015 and 2017 have seen the club secure European football twice in three seasons.
They’re yet to win a European game in their history, with 10 defeats and a pair of draws – the most recent of which was a respectable 0-0 with Shamrock Rovers two years ago.
For the vast majority of games, Paolo Amodio’s side play at the small-but-picturesque Stade Jos Halpert, a 2,800 capacity ground surrounded by trees. However, plum European ties – including this one – are instead hosted at the 8,000-seater national ground, Stade Josy Barthel.
So, who are their players of note?
Centre-back Ismael Bouzid is their biggest name, and definitely the one most familiar to Gers fans. The former Algeria international spent two seasons with Heart of Midlothian (2009-11), before returning to Scotland in 2014 for a brief spell at Kilmarnock.
In midfield, Sebastian Thill and new signing Maximilian Watzka (once of RB Leipzig) offer a bit of class and creativity, while striker Aleksandr Karapetyan has international experience with Armenia.
However, the Progres squad is mostly made up of workmanlike but limited players, most of whom have spent their whole careers in Luxembourg or the lower tiers of French football.
In truth, this should be a straightforward way for the Gers to begin their return to Europe after more than five years away. That’s reflected by the odds of 1/22 for the hosts to win the first leg at Ibrox.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing