Smith expects Werder to mount strong comeback
Thursday 13 March 2008
The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, has emphasised the importance of scoring an away goal tonight as the Scottish side's hosts, Werder Bremen, attempt to make up for their 2-0 defeat in Glasgow last week.
Smith believes the game at the Weserstadion will be "one of the toughest matches" of the season, despite the fact that Rangers are unbeaten in 20 games and Bremen lost 6-3 at Stuttgart last weekend.
"I don't think we are in a commanding position," Smith said. "We won the first leg 2-0 at home and Bremen will think they can do the same on their home ground." But, he added: "It is an advantage for us, especially if we can manage to get a goal."
Smith has no doubts that Bremen, who have a history of staging stunning comebacks in Europe, will come out looking for goals from the first whistle.
"At Ibrox they attacked at every opportunity. They have a reputation of being a tough home team. We know we are in for a very tough evening defensively," Smith said. "But for us to make the most out of the first-leg result we have to at least score one goal ourselves and I think that will be an important factor."
Smith believes keeping Bremen quiet in the early stages, or at least keeping them off the scoresheet, could be vital.
"There will be more chances for us the longer the game goes on," he said. "The longer the game goes and it stays 0-0, we'll have more opportunities to break away. But the main thing is to keep the score 0-0."
Smith will be without Daniel Cousin, who scored and fractured his jaw in the first leg. Cousin's fellow striker Jean-Claude Darcheville (Achilles) is also out, while Lee McCulloch (thigh), another candidate for a role up front, faces a fitness race. "Darcheville is not fit to play," Smith said. "He might make Sunday's CIS Cup final but we don't think he is quite ready for this game."
Rangers are in the running for four trophies this season but the Uefa Cup may present Bremen with their last chance of gaining some silverware. They are out of the German Cup and seven points behind the leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga. Their Brazilian midfielder Diego and the striker Aaron Hunt were involved in a dressing-room fracas following the 2-0 defeat at Ibrox. Then came the defeat at Stuttgart.
Smith said: "I don't think the loss at Stuttgart was as clear-cut as the result suggests. We managed to see the game on television and Bremen did well early in the match. They were in that game for a long time."
The Rangers manager is well aware how much there will be at stake tonight. He said: "We know that the game tomorrow night will be one of the toughest we play all season. It is obviously a tough task."
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