HAVING come through three qualifying rounds already this season Steven Gerrard has urged his players to give everything against Ufa this evening to progress to the Europa League group stage.
The Rangers manager and his squad travelled to Russia from Glasgow Airport yesterday ahead of tonight’s massive play-off round second leg in the Neftyanik Stadium.
And with a 1-0 victory from the first leg at Ibrox – with Connor Goldson getting the goal – Gerrard believes the Light Blues have put themselves in a strong position, although he is fully aware that there is a lot of work still to be done.
Speaking to RangersTV, he said: “It’s an exciting game for us. We are 90 minutes away from bringing European football back and it’s what we are giving all our focus to at the moment – me, my staff and the players.
“Obviously we go into the game on the back of a setback at Motherwell. We were a set piece away from taking maximum points again and we all came away disappointed from that game. It almost felt like a defeat.
“So it’s important that we go and approach this game in the right way and we try and get that positivity back.
The players have put in a lot of effort and a lot of hard work to get this opportunity and they deserve the opportunity, but it’s important we go and finish the job off.
“There is one more hurdle to get over and it will be tough. The environment and the fixture will bring different challenges, but what I will say is 99 percent of the challenges this team have faced so far they have done very well and that’s the reason why everyone is expecting so much from them.
“If you take into consideration the amount of changes we have made and how new we all are and then, on the back of obviously the disappointment against Progres last year, I think the team have come a long way, but it will be such a big shame if we can’t go and finish the job off.
To get so far and so close would be a big shame, so we’re all looking forward to the game. It’s a pressure game for us but I have confidence and belief in my players that they can go and deliver.”
The manager also gave his thoughts on what he expects from Ufa tonight. He said: “A similar formation, so we believe they will play with the three centre backs and wing backs. But we believe the wing backs will be a lot more positive and adventurous for them this time around.
“We also feel the three in midfield, or they might even play a box in midfield, will be more forward thinking.
“I think they came to Ibrox for a draw, or they came not to concede many goals, and part of their game plan worked because even although we won the game we only managed to get one goal and our plan was to try and get more.
“So we both came away pleased. We were pleased we won the game with a clean sheet but I’m sure they are quite confident going into the game as well. So we expect the same but a bit more positivity from them.”