Smith enjoys pressure of Rangers' rare chance to reach last 16

Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, insists his side are relishing the pressure they now find themselves under as expectations of a last-16 place in the Champions League begin to grow.

The Scottish champions were all but written off when the draw was made and they found themselves in a section which includes Manchester United, Valencia and Turkish champions Bursaspor. Rangers finished bottom of their group without a win in the competition last year but already have five points at the halfway stage this time.

They head into tonight's tie with Valencia a point ahead of their Spanish hosts and Smith believes the home side are not the only ones expected to deliver on the night.

He said: "There is no doubt there is pressure on us to get a result, it's not just Valencia who want to do well in the tournament. We have started well and we welcome the extra pressure that's on us. To see if we can try to remain in the tournament after Christmas is a pressure that's welcome. Last season, we were never in this position."

However, Smith claims Valencia are still favourites to progress from Group C, along with Manchester United, despite some less than impressive results domestically, as well as drawing at Ibrox in their last European outing.

He added: "Valencia would have been anyone's favourite at the start of the campaign. Manchester United and Valencia were the two favoured teams to remain in the Champions League. I still think that's the case. You mention Valencia's last two results but when you lose the players they lost in the close season, it always takes a bit of time to find your feet. They did so exceptionally well in the early part but there were always going to be one or two problems.

"For the last few seasons, David Villa has been their top goalscorer and, when there was a little bit of a problem, he would do something special to win a game. Maybe in the last couple of games they haven't had that but overall they are still an extremely strong team and still the favoured team to go through."

Probable teams: Valencia (4-4-2): Moyà; Miguel, Navarro, R Costa, Mathieu; M Fernandes, Mata, M Topal, P Hernández; Dominguez, Aduriz.

Rangers (4-4-2): McGregor; Broadfoot, Weir, Bougherra, Papac; Whittaker, Edu, Davis, Naismith; Lafferty, Miller.

Referee F Brych (Ger).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss