Union SG star hopes Rangers feel the loss of Super Eagles duo in crucial Champions League qualifier

The Belgian minnows and the Scottish giants meet over two legs in the third round of the continental competition

Union Saint Gilloise defender Christian Burgess believes the departure of Nigerian stars Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey from Glasgow Rangers have weakened the Ibrox giants.

Rangers and Union Saint Gilloise have been paired together in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League.

Europa League finalists last season, Rangers are the overwhelming favourites against the inexperienced Belgian side.

After years of mediocre showings in the lower leagues, Union SG finished second in the Belgian top division last season to make it to Europe’s premier club competition.

Former Portsmouth ace Christian Burgess admits Les Unionistes will have to battle hard to overcome the 2021 Scottish Premiership champions.

But the 30-year-old is convinced that, in the absence of Aribo and Bassey, Rangers are not as strong as they once were.

The two Super Eagles stars were the Gers’ heroes on the continent last term. While Aribo scored in the Europa League final defeat to Frankfurt, Bassey was named the man-of-the-match.

Both have departed the Ibrox Stadium, however. Aribo left for Southampton, while Bassey completed a record move to Ajax Amsterdam.

Burgess hopes the absence of the two Nigerians will give Union SG a chance against their illustrious opponents on Tuesday night.

“Ideally, losing these guys might disrupt Rangers’ rhythm,” the 30-year-old defender told Record Sport. “I played against Aribo when he was at Charlton, just before he moved to Rangers, and he was a really good player even then.

“Obviously, Bassey has gone too so there has been a bit of disruption where last season’s side is concerned. It’s similar to our own situation. When a team does so well it attracts a lot of attention and you end up having your best players cherry picked.

“We have just lost Casper Nielsen who was one of our best players last season so we are dealing with the same sort of issues. That was a big blow to us as we were hoping he would stay around a bit longer.

“I know what it’s like when you lose a key player and someone else has to step up into that position and fill their boots. It’s really tough for that person to assimilate themselves quickly. So that’s going to be a challenge for Rangers.”

Union SG host the first leg of their tie against Rangers at the King Power at Den Dreef Stadion, Heverlee.

The return leg comes up next week in Glasgow.

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