THE plan is the same four decades later. If Rangers can replicate the results and performance, they will be treasured for many years to come.
In 1982, the Light Blues embarked on their first UEFA Cup campaign and were handed a draw against Borussia Dortmund. A goalless draw in Germany and a 2-0 win at Ibrox would see them through to the next round.
The achievement isn’t quite as remarkable as some of the other great duels against German opposition that Rangers have had throughout their illustrious and storied European history.
These results will never stand the test of time like the victories over Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and even Dortmund on the way to the Euro finals in years past.
But the exploits of John Greig’s side are the perfect example for today’s stars to follow as Giovanni van Bronckhorst looks to engineer victory over the Bundesliga giants.
Goals from Davie Cooper and Derek Johnstone earned Rangers the win which saw them set up a meeting with Cologne in the second round.
If the champions can return home with a shot of glory on Thursday night, it will be a job well done against a star-studded Dortmund side guided by Marco Rose.
“When it comes to knockout matches in European football, leaving home and winning a 0-0 can rarely be considered a negative outcome,” said Barcelona Bear Johnstone.
“That was the case for us against Dortmund. We had to work hard for that draw there, but it paid off and then we were able to finish the job at Ibrox.
“Davie Cooper scored from close range in the first half with what was a poacher’s finish and that – coming just before the break, I’m sure – put us in control of the game at this stage.
“I remember their keeper making a really good save from my header in the second half, but then I scored late, from a Coop cross in fact, at the far post. It won us the game.
“Dortmund were a decent team then. They had finished sixth in the Bundesliga the previous season to qualify for the UEFA Cup and going there so early in the competition was never going to be an easy challenge for us.
Victory in that first UEFA Cup draw was one of the few highlights of the season for Rangers, as they went empty-handed domestically and finished well adrift in the Premier Division.
A decade after their crowning glory at Barcelona, manager Greig and Johnstone – coming towards the end of his first spell at Ibrox – never seemed to conquer the continent again and the season was ultimately one to forget.
“Dortmund had good players offensively and they were clearly able to score goals, but we felt we could get through them as well,” Johnstone said.
“So we knew if we could defend well and stay tight and deny them a goal, chances would come our way at the other end. That’s how it went on both legs.
“This season was the first time Rangers played in the UEFA Cup and obviously we wanted to get as far in the competition as possible. It wasn’t to be at the end.
“We were comfortably beaten by Cologne in the next round and our return to Germany certainly didn’t go as planned on that occasion, unfortunately. We gave ourselves a chance with a nice win at Ibrox but then lost 5 -0 outside and that’s it.
“To be honest, we’ve had a difficult season. Our league form just wasn’t consistent enough to fight for the title and lose in the final of both cup competitions – one against Aberdeen and the other against Celtic – was really tough to cash in on.
The task facing Rangers this time around is even more difficult. Dortmund may be behind the pace set by Bayern in the title race, but their status as potential Europa League winners tells its own story.
Defending their Premiership title must come first for the champions this season, but the trip to Germany offers both respite and opportunity as Van Bronckhorst’s side aim to rise to the occasion.
“Everyone knows how impressive the Westfalenstadion is as an arena and I’m sure Rangers players will be looking forward to playing there next week,” Johnstone said.
“It’s a shame the Rangers supporters couldn’t travel in their numbers as it would have been a great trip for them and they would have given tremendous support to the team.
“It will be strange to only see 10,000 people inside the ground on Thursday night and we will see what kind of impact that has on both teams and how they deal with this reduced atmosphere.
“You certainly can’t say it’s a negative for Rangers to have that smaller home crowd and less noise, but it’s still going to be a really tough night for us and you just have to look at the game. Dortmund team to see why they are among the favorites to go all the way in the Europa League this season.
“There have been positive signs in the games with Hearts and Hibernian and the response to the Old Firm defeat has been good, but it’s another level for Rangers and they will have to step it up again if they want to. give yourself a chance. return to Ibrox.
If Rangers are to defeat Dortmund next week, it will take not only their best performance under Van Bronckhorst’s management, but arguably their best performance together as a group.
Rangers have not been intimidated by tough European challenges in recent years. In Alfredo Morelos – their top scorer on the continent – they have a striker who could now fill the role of DJ and become a goalscoring hero against the German giants.
“Alfredo has been like a rejuvenated character since Giovanni became a coach and he’s been playing with a smile on his face and clearly enjoying his football at the moment,” Johnstone said.
“These are the kind of nights he loves and thrives on. If he could score a goal on Thursday, that might be enough to give Rangers some hope for the second leg if they can find a way to stop Dortmund’s formidable attack.
“He’s doing such a good job for the team at the moment and he’s running hard, he’s dragging defenders out of position and he’s linking play.
“More importantly, he also scores goals and hopefully he can get another to add to his European tally. If anyone is going to score, it’s likely to come from Morelos right now.