The third qualifying round of the Champions League gets under way this midweek with several high-profile teams involved in these relatively early stages of the competition.
Steven Gerrard’s Rangers begin their European campaign with a trip to Swedish outfit Malmo, as the former Liverpool midfielder seeks to steer his side to the group stages.
Former European Cup winners Benfica and PSV Eindhoven are also in action, as are usual group stage dwellers in Shakhtar Donetsk and Monaco.
All ties will be two-legged and the winners will face one last hurdle before entering the group stage, which is due to start in September.
The Champions Path losers will face a Europa League play-off, while the League Path losers will be entered into the Europa League Group Stage
Miserly Gers to Grind Down Malmo
Rangers got their domestic season off to a serene start on Saturday, routinely beating Livingston 3-0 at Ibrox.
They barely needed to get out of second gear as goals from Ianis Hagi, Scott Wright, and Kemar Roofe got the job done.
While their stunning unbeaten league season took most of the headlines, their progress in Europe can’t be underestimated.
The Gers made the round of 16 before slipping up against Slavia Prague but they showcased their attacking ability, netting 23 goals in ten group and knockout stage matches.
Tuesday’s test is at Malmo, currently second in the Swedish Allsvenskan. They are their league’s top scorers with 31 goals, but have conceded 16 in 13 matches.
Rangers’ extra defensive solidity should see them through and they can be backed at
11/4 to win by a one-goal margin.
Shakhtar out to Prove a Point
Under new management following the appointment of Roberto de Zerbi, Shakhtar have something to prove to the footballing world after losing their grip on the Ukranian league to Dynamo Kiev.
The Italian has got off to a good start with two wins from two and now faces his first European test.
There is so much experience in the squad with the likes of Marlos and Alan Patrick stalwarts at this level.
Genk have a reputation for being a gung-ho team, scoring more goals than other team in the Belgian Jupiler League last season.
However, they have started this season very shakily, not winning any of their three games and losing 4-3 at home to Oostende at the weekend.
Goals are to be expected and Shakhtar can be backed to win with both teams to score at
Benfica to Prolong Spartak Wait
Benfica travel to Spartak Moscow on Wednesday as they seek to get a group stage place for just the second time in five seasons.
Manager Jorge Jesus has guided the Lisbon Eagles through to two Europa League finals during his time at the club and knows what it takes to be successful in European competition.
Spartak are now under the stewardship of former Benfica manager Rui Vitoria as they seek to get into the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2017.
He has had a mixed start to his tenure with the Russian club, winning one and losing one of his two in charge.
Spartak have only scored one goal in their two games this season, while the visitors have the in-form Haris Seferovic to call upon, fresh from his excellent showing at Euro 2020 with Switzerland.
Benfica can be backed at
16/5 to win to nil.
*All odds correct at time of writing