Rangers’ coefficient heroics set up a tantalizing Champions League game-changer against Red Star
Rangers’ sensational win over Borussia Dortmund has given Scotland’s coefficient an extra boost – and they can all but secure a place in the top 10 against Red Star.
Gio van Bronckhorst’s side are the only remaining Premiership side in Europe after coming through the Europa League qualifiers with a 4-2 win in Germany and a 2-2 draw at Ibrox.
With UEFA awarding two points for a win and one for a draw, split between the number of teams that have participated in European competition, this added 0.6 to the Scottish coefficient.
Rangers also received a bonus point for reaching the last 16 which, with five teams in Europe, adds another 0.2 to the Premiership coefficient.
They have been drawn against Red Star in the next round and it could be a shootout for a crucial top-10 spot.
This season’s league winners are very likely to advance directly to the Champions League group stage, but a place is not guaranteed.
Scotland started the season in 11th position, with 26 teams guaranteed to be in the groups for 2022-23.
They are the top four in the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A, the top two in France and Portugal, as well as the champions of Russia, Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands. Low.
Two other places are reserved for the winners of the Champions League and the Europa League, but if the former have already qualified via their national championship, their place goes to the nation ranked 11th.
Since Chelsea in 2012, the winners of the competition have failed to qualify, so there’s a very good chance Celtic or Rangers will go straight into the group – but if Scotland finish the season in the top 10 will be a cast iron guarantee for the next season champions and the nation is currently ranked ninth.
Only Serbia can realistically deny the Premiership that top 10 spot, which makes Rangers’ clash with Red Star all the more important.
Balkan state closed the gap in the final round of fixtures, with Partizan Belgrade winning both legs of their draw with Sparta Prague.
Given that Serbia have entered only four teams in Europe this season, this added a point to their coefficient to leave them at 32.875.
The Premiership are just over two points clear at 2.025 but, crucially, Red Star and Partizan are still playing in Europe and capable of scoring.
The latter have a tough tie against Feyenoord in the Europa Conference League but, remember, any win for them is worth more than for a Scottish team because it is divided by four instead of five.
This means that even if Partizan win one leg and lose the other, they will add 0.5 points to the Serbian coefficient.
Against this backdrop, it becomes clear how crucial Rangers’ clash with Red Star is, with another bonus point on offer to reach the quarter-finals.
If we take the worst-case scenario for the Scottish coefficient which sees the Premiership champions losing both games, that alone would add 1.25 to the Serbian coefficient (four points for two wins, plus a bonus point, divided by four).
If Partizan won even one of their games against Feyenoord, the points gap would narrow to 0.275, with Red Star just one win away from ensuring Serbia finish ahead of Scotland.
That wouldn’t necessarily rule out a top 10 spot for the Premiership, but in this scenario all eyes would be on Russia.
Their top division currently sit in 10th place, sandwiched between Scotland and Serbia, and Spartak Moscow are the only Russian side still in Europe.
They face RB Leipzig in the round of 16 and, having entered five teams, each win is worth the same as a win for a Scottish side.
The Russian top-flight are currently 0.418 points behind the Premiership, meaning one win isn’t quite enough to overtake.
But Spartak would also earn a bonus point for qualifying for the quarter-finals to add another 0.2 to the Russian coefficient – a problem if Rangers go out.
All of this adds further incentive for Van Bronckhorst’s men, who can essentially guarantee a place in the top 10 and the resulting Champions League spot by knocking out Red Star.