Champions League Tuesday predictions: Rangers eyeing positive start
Rangers take their first step into Europe this season when they head to Belgium to face Union Saint-Gilloise on Tuesday.
The Champions League enters the third qualifying round this week with the likes of Monaco, PSV and Benfica also joining the field.
Victory over two legs in the third qualifying round will earn clubs a spot in the playoff round and place them just 180 minutes away from the lucrative group stages.
Union Saint-Gilloise vs Rangers (Tuesday, 7.45pm BST)
Rangers are looking to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2010-11, having enjoyed a run to the final of the Europa League last season.
Tuesday's first-leg clash comes on the road against Union Saint-Gilloise, who finished second in the Belgian Jupiler League after winning promotion to the top flight following a 49-year absence.
Union Saint-Gilloise kicked off their domestic season on July 22 with a draw on the road at St Truiden but they followed that up with a victory over Charleroi on home soil.
Tuesday's match will be the first time in the Belgian club's 124-year history that they have appeared in the Champions League but injuries to key figures could scupper their hopes of going any further.
Summer signing Dennis Eckert is set to miss out and defender Ismael Kandouss is expected to be sidelined for a month after sustaining an injury in the win over Charleroi.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men started their Scottish Premiership campaign on Saturday and showed spirit to come from a goal down and earn a 2-1 triumph at Livingston.
Rangers have not fared too well on their travels in the Champions League, having failed to win any of their last 11 games on the road in a run that stretches back to 2007.
Rangers looked a little rusty in their Premiership opener on Saturday but, thanks to the depth available to boss Van Bronckhorst, they were able to pick up all three points.
The Dutchman is likely to shuffle the pack slightly as he looks to fine-tune his side while also offering the chance to further build up his players' match fitness.
Picking up a positive result will be the top priority but keeping a clean sheet will likely prove tough for the Scottish outfit.
Rangers lacked discipline at the weekend and are expected to be tested by a Union Saint-Gilloise side that top-scored with 78 goals during their 2021-22 domestic campaign.
Monaco vs PSV (Tuesday, 7pm BST)
Monaco and PSV square off in arguably the tie of the round with the Principality outfit hoping to get off to a strong start on home soil.
The Ligue 1 side, who finished third last season, were runners-up in the Champions League in 2004 and reached the semi-finals in 2017.
PSV ended last term second in the Eredivisie but they are embarking on a new era this campaign with Ruud van Nistelrooy in the dugout.
This will be Monaco's first competitive game of 2022-23 and it comes after a mixed pre-season, which saw them win just two of their seven outings.
Exciting midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni's departure this summer is definitely a blow but boss Philippe Clement, who oversaw a 10-game unbeaten run to end the league last term, has added Takumi Minamino, Breel Embolo and Thomas Didillon to his ranks.
Monaco have never been knocked out in the third qualifying round, while they have won each of their three previous home ties at this stage.
Van Nistelrooy already has a feather in his cap after taking charge of PSV in the summer, beating Ajax 5-3 to win the Super Cup.
He will be keen to keep building momentum and PSV can take confidence from their record in Champions League qualifiers, having lost just two of their last 10.
PSV's performance against Ajax last time out suggests they have plenty of attacking threat under their new boss and that could lead to an exciting first-leg tie at the Stade Louis II.
Both teams to score looks a viable outcome in this clash with plenty of candidates capable of opening their accounts for the term.
Kevin Volland is one that stands out for Monaco, netting three times in Europe in 2021-22, while PSV new-boy Guus Til bagged seven times during qualifying with Feyenoord last season and scored a hat-trick in the victory over Ajax on Saturday.
Benfica vs Midtjylland (Tuesday, 8pm BST)
Benfica are part of the furniture in European football and they enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2021-22.
However, after finishing third in the Primeira Liga last season, 17 points behind winners Porto, they need to scrap it out for a route through to the group stage.
Midtjylland entered the Champions League in the second qualifying round, beating AEK Larnaca on penalties and they could struggle with this step up in opposition.
Last season's disappointing league finish led Benfica to bringing in a new boss and Roger Schmidt has overseen an extremely positive pre-season.
The Portuguese giants have won all five of their outings in the build up to the new term, which includes a 3-2 triumph over Newcastle, and the feel-good factor appears to be back.
Midtjylland are firmly up and running with their domestic season, having played three games, and should have fitness on their side, although they have only won one of those outings.
Benfica have reached the group stage of the Champions League in 11 of the last 12 seasons and should have enough quality to brush aside Midtjylland over two legs.
Filling the void left by last season's top scorer Darwin Nunez, who joined Liverpool this summer, could be difficult but academy graduate Goncalo Ramos has bagged three goals in pre-season and may have a say on the outcome of this fixture.