STEVEN GERRARD has called on his Rangers players to ‘ignite the crowd’ against Spartak Moscow tomorrow night as they did three weeks ago against Rapid Vienna.
The atmosphere when Gers beat the Austrians 3-1 has been lauded around the continent, and Gerrard knows a similar performance from the fans tomorrow can be a major asset for his side.
As Rapid did before they visited Ibrox, Spartak have changed their manager in the lead-up to the tie, but Gerrard reckons this time around it is a different situation.
Speaking at this afternoon’s UEFA press conference at Ibrox Stadium, Gerrard began: “It is the same in terms of a change of manager, but it is slightly different as they have promoted from within.
“The manager that will be in charge tomorrow was in the set-up anyway whereas the Rapid one came from outside. It doesn’t really affect our preparation and our gameplan, and we are going into the game with confidence and belief but with respect that we are playing against a big team with Champions League experience.
“I think it has all the makings of being an exciting game. I can sit here and tell you how I would like it to go, and that is for us to really take the game to the opposition.
“We need to ignite this crowd again like we did in the previous game as we believe if we play on the front foot and are aggressive, then the fans come with us and we believe we are a tough team to play against here.
“You try and put yourself in the shoes of the opposition manager, and your first game is away at Ibrox – if we are at it with the crowd behind us, that is a tricky game for your first game, and we need to make sure we don’t disappoint.
“I think Spartak come, with all due respect, more experience than Rapid. They play in hostile arenas over in Russia so we realise we are playing against a big team who are very capable of hurting us.
“We now they carry a dead ball specialist too, so we are well aware of their strengths, but there are certainly areas for us to exploit and I am really excited and looking forward to watching my team play tomorrow.
“If we can emulate the Rapid performance and we can emulate the atmosphere from a fans’ point of view, then I am really looking forward to seeing the outcome of this game.”
Gerrard also gave a further update in terms of injuries, adding: “Scott Arfield won’t be ready – the game has come too soon for him. Jacko is back fit and ready for selection while Borna trained today and we will wait and see if he has had any reaction from today’s session so you might see him.
“If he doesn’t, it will maybe only be minor so he will be ready for the weekend. [Graham Dorrans] has been to see a surgeon in the last couple of days.
“We are analysing what has come back and Graeme and the medical department will make a decision on the next move. That is one which is being spoken about.”