AROUND 4,000 Bears with tickets are expected to arrive in eastern Spain today and tomorrow, with another 1,500 without tickets. Benidorm, Alicante, Valencia…anywhere really.
After previewing the reverse fixture, I had a lot of worries going into the Ibrox tie. Valencia were flying high at the top end of arguably the best league in the world, and had an abundance of top stars throughout their team.
That has not changed. But after a fantastic performance and 1-1 draw, Rangers go into tomorrow’s Champions League tie with confidence. Rangers deserved to win the fixture in Govan, with about nine million chances being spurned. Okay, that is an exaggeration but Valencia were well and truly rattled and admitted they were surprised by how many chances the Teddy Bears created.
Leaving Ibrox that night, most of us did not know what to feel. Pride in our team for getting a point against a team the stature of Valencia? Or disappointment that we did not take all three points after creating so many goalscoring opportunities? Personally it was the latter.
But not getting the win didn’t take away the good point won. The same result in the Mestalla tomorrow would be perfect for our qualification aspirations. Walter Smith’s 5-4-1 will come out for its European duty again, but there is injury worries for Maurice Edu and Vladimir Weiss, both injured in the 1-1 draw with high-flying Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday.
Away from home it is not likely Weiss would have started anyway, as he is an attacking winger. Edu will be missed in the centre of midfield if he doesn’t make it however, as his performances in this Euro campaign have shown he is valuable.
A performance similar to the game away to Manchester United would not go a miss for us Rangers supporters. A draw in Valencia would keep us a point ahead of them, and set us up nicely for the Battle of Britain clash at home to United on November 24th.
A lot of energy is going to be required in this game, as it is Spanish opposition we are up against. Valencia will be happy to pass all game long, waiting for that one chance to score a goal. However, seeing as Valencia’s form has dipped since being defeated by Barcelona and drawing at Ibrox, the home crowd may get on their backs if things aren’t going their way.
Rangers haven’t faired particularly well in recent campaigns past Matchday Three. For example, the year we reached the UEFA Cup Final, 2007-2008, we had seven points from three games in the Champions League. We then lost the next three to finish third, drop to the UEFA Cup and the rest is history.
It promises to be a fantastic occasion for the thousands of Rangers fans travelling to Spain. They will enjoy the singing, the sunshine, the beer and probably the ladies. Hopefully they’ll enjoy the result too! Let’s hope Rangers can pick themselves up from the poor 1-1 draw to Caley, take another step to the Last 16, and become legends.
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