UEFA Champions League Second and Third Qualifying round have just been drawn with Monaco’s and Glasgow Rangers’s paths to group stage revealed.
In League Path, the Ligue 1 outfit is set up against a tougher opposition, the 1988 UCL Champions, PSV Eindhoven. Phillip Clement’s side’s ambition to return to the groups stage would be quite challenging since PSV is also targeting the same. Both teams have not made it to the group stage in the European top flight since 2018/19 season. They began their campaign from the same stage as today last season. Unfortunately, neither of them managed to progress. Wissam Ben Yedder and Co were eliminated by Shakhtar Donestk while the Eredivisie giant lost to Benfica in the playoff round.
Monaco have been quite active in the current transfer window to improve their continental campaign. They have made two important signings, Takumi Minamino from Liverpool and Breel Embolo from Gladbach, The club has also sold four players, including Aurelien Tchouameni to Real Madrid with the fee up to €80 million, sent goalkeeper Benjamin Lacomte on loan to Espanyol plus released three senior figures, Cesc Fabregas, Vito Mannone and Djibril Sidibe for free.
Their counterpart, PSV under their newly appointed head coach, Ruud Van Nilsterooy, have been signed seven new players, four of whom are bound to be the key figures of the team. They are the former Nice goalie, Walter Benitez, the frontman Luuk de Jong who spent his season on loan in Barcelona last season, attacking midfielder Guus Til and the La Masia gradute, Xavi Simmons. These arrivals are the replacement for Mario Gotze, Japanese international Ritsu Doan, Bruma, and Israeli forward Eren Zahavi who have parted ways in this summer.
Meanwhile, Europa League runner up, Glasgow Rangers is only drawn against Champions League debutante, Belgium’s Union Saint-Gilloise, which had stunned their contenders last season by getting involved in a title race against Club Brugge. What’s even more surprising was they did it in their first season in the top tier after 48-year absence. Rangers’s path might look easier but Saint-Gilloise remains a potential threat for Giovanni Van Bronckhost’s men. The Scottish giant aims for their return to UCL group stage after missing out since 2010/11 season.
Beside those four teams, the league path also includes Austria’s Strum Graz and two-time European Cup/UCL winner, Benfica. The former is set to meet the winner between Dynamo Kiev and Turkish Super Lig runner-up, Fenerbahce, whereas the latter shall encounter Denmark’s Midtylland or Cypriot AEK Lanarca from second qualifying round.
The fixtures of the second stage are held in Tueday/Wednesday this week and next week. The following stage will be contested on August 2-3 and 9. The winners of the third qualifiers will advance to the playoff round.