Rangers: back fighting for trophies

A turbulent decade lies behind Rangers Football Club. After the side from Glasgow were sentenced to relegation to the fourth tier of Scottish football, the traditional powerhouse fought their way back and even lifted in the Scottish Premiership trophy again in 2021. Now Rangers are looking to battle it out against arch-rivals Celtic in the long term. The match against TSG Hoffenheim (Saturday, 15:30 CET) is the last big test for Rangers ahead of turbulent weeks of competitive action.

Exactly ten years ago, Rangers had something to celebrate. However, it was not the Scottish Premiership trophy  – which the club have won some 55 times in total – they were lifting. Rangers were celebrating promotion from the fourth division. After bankruptcy, the club were forced to start again under a new operating company at the very bottom of the Scottish league system. Within four years, the club had secured promotion three times and returned to Scotland's top tier, where they have been runners-up five times since then, and were even crowned champions in 2021, going the whole season unbeaten in the league. In 2022, the club reached the final of the Europa League, where the Scots ultimately lost out to Eintracht Frankfurt on penalties.

Rangers Football Club – the city name does not appear in the official club name – have returned to the top, even though arch-rivals Celtic have kept Rangers at bay at the top of the table over the past two years. But the Scottish League is once again a two-horse race: some 26 points separated Rangers in second place and Aberdeen in third place in last season's final table.

The Scots will travel to the Kraichgau for the match on Saturday (15:30 CET) with three players who have experience in the Bundesliga. Rabbi Matondo played in 30 games for FC Schalke, Sam Lammers has 15 Bundesliga appearances for Frankfurt, while Leon Balogun has played 75 times in Germany's top tier, collecting Bundesliga minutes for Mainz, Düsseldorf, Hanover and Bremen.

After the pre-season opener against Rangers next weekend, TSG will travel to Fulham on 5 August. For the Scots, they will be in action in league, starting with a trip to Kilmarnock, and only a few days later, they will have a Champions League qualifier against Servette or KRC Genk. Ten years ago, European nights seemed a very long way away. Now they have already once again part and parcel of every season at the legendary Ibrox Stadium.

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