Loyal supporters of Rangers FC long for the days of returning to the Europa League Final for a chance to capture the elusive Europa League crown. It seems like a lifetime ago to many, but just two seasons ago, the Rangers nearly accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of becoming the first team in UEFA Cup/Europa League history to reach the Final after losing their first two matches in the competition.

Joe Aribo put the Scottish side ahead in the title match in the 57th minute, but his squad failed to hold the lead, allowing an equaliser to come just a dozen minutes later. Most Rangers fans need no reminder of how the penalty shootout unfolded after a scoreless extra time, but it's safe to say that Aaron Ramsey still lives with the regret of missing his kick from the spot.

While it’s safe to say that punters will not see the Rangers anytime soon on sportsbook’s Champion League odds (unless they win the Europa League this time around), there may be reasons for fans of the Light Blues to be positive about the future. This article will take a closer look at the Rangers’ recent form and analyse the trajectory of the club to see what lies ahead for the only Scottish club to ever reach the final of a major European competition.

The Latest Performances

While the Rangers are off to a lackadaisical start in the Premiership (third place through the first six games), manager Michael Beale’s squad won their first match in the new Europa League campaign, earning the Rangers’ first victory over a Spanish side in sixteen tries when they defeated Real Betis 1-0 in Glasgow. After being outplayed and outclassed in the first half, but taking a 0-0 score into the break, the Ibrox side dominated the second half, hitting the woodwork twice before Rangers striker, Abdallah Sima, slotted home a goal that would prove to be the game-winner in the 67th minute following a corner kick.

High Expectations in the Europa League

Beale must have shared an inspiring halftime speech given how his team responded in the final 45 minutes. He told UEFA.com, “We have to draw a line what team we're going to be and step over it. We've fallen a bit short in big games so far this season by not being decisive and that's why I am so pleased with the goal.”

Rangers goalkeeper Jack Butland echoed his manager’s thoughts, satisfied with a clean sheet and a positive result. Butland said, “It’s one of the first games this season where we've felt we've really hit our stride and found some really good form. I think it could have been more for us, but the group stage is all about getting the job done and we did that tonight.”

Currently sitting second place in Group C behind AC Sparta Praha (Prague), Beale’s squad travels to Cyprus next to take on Aris Limassol on 5 October.

A Slow Start in the Premiership

Last season the Rangers finished second in the Scottish Premiership standings, behind six-time champions, Celtic. In the early days of the new campaign, familiar foe Celtic leads the table again with sixteen points, while the Rangers currently are in third place in the standings with twelve points. Meanwhile, Motherwell and St. Mirren have played well enough to be in second and fourth place, with fourteen and ten points, respectively.

Before their opening victory in the Europa League, Rangers defeated last-place St. Johnstone 2-0 in Perth. It was a dominant performance for the Light Blues as they outpossessed their opposition, controlling the ball for 71% of play. Beale's squad also tallied twenty shots (six on target) compared to their opponent's three.

Looking ahead

Michael Beale and Rangers supporters alike look to their upcoming matches with high expectations. As the Gers continue to come together, they will need to show the passion and desire that have been on display as of late to earn results and hopefully make a deep run in the Europa League and enjoy a successful season in the Premiership.