STEVEN GERRARD will select a side with ‘balance’ for tomorrow night’s crunch Europa League qualifier with NK Maribor here in Slovenia.
The Light Blues come into the tie with a 3-1 lead after a memorable night at Ibrox last Thursday, but rather than come to simply hold what they have, Gerrard has challenged his men to be ruthless if and when they have opportunities in an attacking sense.
He also warned them of the quality of Maribor, and that the tie is far from done yet.
Speaking at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, the Ibrox gaffer explained: “It will be a test and it will certainly be a tough test – but so was Osijek and so was Shkupi because we weren’t 100 per-cent match fit.
“I think it would be very naïve of my players to go in and think this is going to be a walkover or be very easy. We understand the threat Maribor come with – we know they are a Champions League category team, so we come here with respect, but at the same time, we won’t be getting nervous or scared about any comments that come out of Maribor.
“We will worry and focus on us, and I believe the team are ready and I believe the team are capable of getting a result which favours us.”
“It is my job to come here with a game plan that gets the balance right and we don’t know now how the game is going to pan out – it is very difficult to predict what Maribor are going to do and how they are going to approach it.
“But in terms of us, we are looking for the balance where we don’t give much away, we defend, we are organised and we have a good shape about us.
“But, in terms of the personnel I will be picking people in the team who are capable of going to the other side and creating for us.
“I have no doubt tomorrow we will create chances. The challenge for the players is can we go and take an important one? Can someone within our setup get that very important goal?
“That is what big players do – they come to difficult venues at important times and they step-up and score important goals. I am hoping that I get the team selection and the game plan right to allow us to go and do that.
“If we were to score that goal early – there is still a lot of time left and I have learned in football you can never become complacent or rest on your laurels – certainly not at this level.
“We are playing against talented players tomorrow and a good team – a good team that are capable of hurting you if you don’t approach it right.
“For me, it is not over until the whistle goes – but, of course, it certainly helps our cause if we were to get a goal.
“At some point, Maribor are going to have to take a certain risk and I will pick a team with enough attacking talent in the team to hopefully go and hurt Maribor.
“This is not a case of us coming here to hang on and grind through the 90 minutes to try and get over the line – this is an opportunity for us to go and show a team that is moving forward, a team that is growing and a team that has confidence.
“So I want my players to play as big players and as a big team tomorrow, and show we are a threat away in Europe.”