McCoist under no illusions at scale of task facing Rangers

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The Independent Football

The Rangers, assistant manager, Ally McCoist believes it would be a stunning achievement for his side to avoid defeat against Barcelona in the Nou Camp tonight.

The Champions League Group E game follows two weeks after the goalless draw between the teams at Ibrox. Rangers are level on seven points at the top of the group with Barcelona, and the teams both have a four-point cushion over third-placed Lyons.

To take a point from the tricky away trip would suit McCoist, who was careful not to set his sights too high.

"I think anybody with football knowledge would say Barcelona are one of the best teams in the competition," he said. "We did very well to get a point against them at home, so we're under no illusions. It's going to be very, very tough. I saw them at the weekend win 3-0, but you never know!"

The victory over Real Betis featured a Thierry Henry strike and two goals from Ronaldinho, a sign that Barcelona's key men are finding their form again after an indifferent period. Rangers are not expected by most observers to upset the odds and win the match, but McCoist, speaking at Glasgow Airport as the team prepared to fly out to Spain yesterday morning, said: "I wouldn't say the pressure's off. The pressure's always there to get results but it's a nice pressure.

"I think the fact that we got the point at Ibrox was a real boost for us so I'm hoping the boys can go in and enjoy it as well, it's a great experience. A lot of people, ourselves included, wouldn't have imagined we'd be sitting with seven points at this stage in the group.

"But there's still a lot of football to be played. Lyons are a good side – you might think they would beat Stuttgart on Wednesday, so it's going to be tough – but we're in the position that we've given ourselves a little chance now. No matter what happens the next couple of games, if we beat Lyons in the last game at home we're through, so it's all going well at the moment."

McCoist spoke out in praise of the travelling band of supporters heading to Barcelona. There could be 20,000 Rangers fans at the match, and McCoist said: "I think it's fantastic. As soon as the draw was made, this was effectively the tie that everybody wanted to go and watch. I just hope they go and behave themselves and enjoy themselves, because it's a wonderful city as well."

Thirty-five years have passed since Rangers won the European Cup-Winners' Cup at the Nou Camp, and members of the team from that day will also be at the game, among them Derek Johnstone. McCoist joked: "I've been told big Derek's brought his boots, which is a bit of a concern to me! That's another thing, that's a wonderful occasion, that was my effectively my team, the '72 team, so I'm looking forward to seeing all those boys as well, it should be a great trip."

The Barçelona midfielder Yaya Touré is anticipating a "physical and tiring" encounter. Touré, the brother of the Arsenal defender Kolo Touré, is determined it will be the Catalan side and not Walter Smith's men who move a step closer to progressing.

"We have to play our game and get the three points because we want to qualify for the next round and keep our place at the top of the group," said the Ivory Coast international, who joined Barcelona from Monaco over the summer. "But it will be a physical and tiring encounter."

Touré played in Barça's 3-0 win against Real Betis on Sunday night. "We played well," Touré added. "We want to show that we're up there and to make a good impression. Also, we had an added motivation to win – we had to take advantage of Real Madrid's defeat [at Seville on Saturday] in order to cut the gap at the top of the table."

Barça's domestic title challenge – they lie a point behind arch-rivals Madrid – has been hampered by their away form this season with Frank Rijkaard's side having claimed just one win from their five road games.

They were also off-colour at Ibrox a fortnight ago, in the goalless draw with Rangers. "It's true that when we play away from home, we're weak," Touré said. "If we want to win the league, we have to win our away matches and I believe we'll do so."

Barça have one doubt for the Rangers game, with the Italy defender Gianluca Zambrotta doubtful with an ankle injury he sustained in the victory over Betis.

Champions League Group E

Results: Barcelona 3 Lyons 0; Rangers 2 VfB Stuttgart 1; Lyons 0 Rangers 3; VfB Stuttgart 0 Barcelona 2; Rangers 0 Barcelona 0; VfB Stuttgart 0 Lyons 2.

Remaining fixtures: Today: Barcelona v Rangers; Lyons v VfB Stuttgart. 27 Nov: VfB Stuttgart v Rangers; Lyons v Barcelona. 12 Dec: Barcelona v VfB Stuttgart; Rangers v Lyons.

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