Rangers FC are the most successful team in Scotland’s club footballing history. They have won the Scottish League Championship an unbelievable 55 times since their formation in 1872.
They have also won the domestic League Cup a record 27 times. These mind-blowing stats would clearly indicate that Rangers are a rather powerful side in European competitions as well.
But alas, numbers don’t make up for all the stories.
In 1972, they did win the European Cup Winners’ Cup after losing 2 finals. They also became the first Scottish team to qualify from their Champions League group stage in 2005-2006.
That is as good as it got for them.
Last night, they lost 1-3 in their final Group A match to Dutch side Ajax and finished at the bottom of the pile playing in a full-capacity Ibrox Stadium.
Rangers failed to accumulate a single point from their 6 matches, scoring only twice. The most surprising part is that they shipped 22 goals against them, ending with a goal difference of (-20).
Officially, this is now the worst-ever performance by a team playing in the Champions League.
A first appearance in the competition after 12 years proved too much of a class difference to overcome for manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst and his merry men.
Curtains were brought down on the campaign to forget as they took over an un-wanted crown from the previous worst performers who had a goal difference of (-19), Dinamo Zagreb in 2011-2012 season.
The lowest point surely was the 1-7 thrashing by fellow British club Liverpool in Glasgow. Mo Salah scored a 6-minute hattrick to silence the home crowd and take all 3 points.
At the end of Tuesday night, Napoli edged out Liverpool as group-winners due to a superior goal difference with both of them moving on to the round of 16 while Ajax dropped down to the Europa League, securing 6 points, all courtesy of Rangers.
It started with a shocking 4-0 rout to Ajax in Amsterdam followed by a 3-0 thumping at home by Napoli.
The double defeat by Liverpool (2-0 & 1-7) sealed their fate of succumbing in the early stages of the competition.
Napoli put the final nail in their coffin with a 3-0 victory in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona before last night’s results ended their nightmare of a run.
Van Bronckhorst’s future at Ibrox will be up for debate as they sit 2nd in the Scottish Premiership table, 4 points behind bitter rivals Celtic.
When asked about his side’s lack of intensity, the Dutchman appeared to suggest the fixture scheduling contributed to his side’s defeat.
Talking in a post-match interview, he said, “[Ajax’s] league is thinking about their players. They played their last game last week on Wednesday and they come here really fresh.”
There have been, however, 20 previous occasions when teams have finished on zero points in the Champions League group stages.
Big guns like Benfica, Villarreal and Club Brugge have all suffered six defeats in the past.
Bulgaria’s Levski Sofia ended their 2006/07 campaign with zero points and just one goal scored while conceding 17.
Russian outfit Spartak Moscow in 2002/03 had the same fate, just letting in one additional goal as they bowed out unceremoniously.
As of 2022-2023, Rangers are clearly the most disappointing team ever to have played in the highest-level European club competition, a tag they can’t wait to get rid of.