Glasgow Rangers return to Europa League action later this evening when they travel to Belgium to take on Royal Antwerp.
Steven Gerrard’s side reached the knockout stages after emerging relatively unscathed from a group including Benfica, Lech Poznan and fellow Belgian Jupiler League outfit Standard Liege.
However, what looks like a straightforward Europa League fixture may, in actual fact, be a potential banana skin for the 54-time Scottish champions.
Not many Rangers fans will have heard the Belgian side’s name crop up in conversation, and in all fairness, Gerrard’s side are favourites to reach the quarter-finals as Antwerp find themselves beset by multiple setbacks.
But don’t let their recent poor run of form fool you. After all, this is the same Antwerp side who caused problems for Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur this season, having beaten Jose Mourinho’s side on home soil back in October.
Gerrard’s men, therefore, should tread with a note of caution.
However, they have been boosted by Alfredo Morelos’s return, who has not featured for the first team since his SFA charge last month.
With both Morelos and Kemar Roofe having missed the past few games due to suspension, Cedric Itten has been given the chance to stake his claim for a place in Gerrard’s starting XI. Yet, the Swiss international has arguably struggled to make the most of the opportunity to lead the line in their absence.
But the Colombian could be a huge threat for Antwerp’s backline, having previously broken Ally McCoist’s all-time European goalscoring record earlier this season.
The 24-year-old’s overall tally for the Gers sits at 88 goals from 168 appearances, which is just shy of a goal once every two games, via Transfermarkt.
Speaking after his record-equalling goal against Lech Poznan back in October, Gerrard said:
“It’s fantastic for him from a personal point of view. Alfredo’s a top-class player, a top-class goalscorer, and it’s fantastic that he’s still here.
“I said it a few weeks back when people are trying to compare them; Ally is a legend at the club, and he’s been here and done it, and he’s got the medals to prove it. Let’s hope Alfredo can continue to follow in his footsteps.”
A return of two goals and an assist ranks him joint-first with James Tavernier in terms of goal contributions in the Europa League out of the entire Rangers squad this season.
Given Antwerp’s injury struggles, Gerrard could give Itten the chance to redeem himself after drawing a blank against Kilmarnock.
However, if he wants to get real when it comes to achieving European success, Morelos is surely his best bet, as his record more than speaks for itself.
The controversial powerhouse has the goalscoring ability to cause Antwerp all sorts of nightmares at the Bosuilstadion tonight, Morelos must start from the off.
AND in other Rangers news, Rangers midfielder Ryan Jack’s goal against Kilmarnock laid bare their problems…