Smith ready to shut up shop once more for Valencia's visit
Walter Smith, the Rangers manager, has admitted his side might struggle to follow their usual defensive tactics in the Champions League when they entertain Valencia at Ibrox tonight. Smith said the mental adjustment required to set up so cautiously at home "is a little bit of a problem", given the more open game they employ in the Scottish Premier League.
"We have to play in a manner that is not our normal way of playing but we have had to do that on a number of occasions and we have managed to handle that okay," Smith said. "I think the players appreciate that there has to be a change of emphasis in these games and they have all done that very well so far this season."
By using a flat back five with four midfielders in front of them, Rangers managed to draw 0-0 at Manchester United before beating Bursaspor 1-0 at Ibrox. If they are to achieve anything in Europe this season, their home form must be better than last year, when they lost all three home Champions League group games, starting with a 4-1 rout to Seville. This was in a club tradition of home defeats to Spanish opposition; not since Osasuna in 1985 have they beaten a La Liga side at Ibrox and they still lost that Uefa Cup tie on aggregate. It ought to be remembered, though, that Smith deployed similar tactics in a 0-0 draw against Barcelona in 2007, prompting Lionel Messi to accuse them of "anti-football".
Hector Cuper's Valencia side won 2-1 at Ibrox in 1999 on the way to the first of two successive losing appearances in the Champions League final. Although Unai Emery's team might not be quite the same calibre, they are still just one point off the lead in La Liga and thrashed Bursaspor 4-0 in their first away game in Group C. The two Davids, Villa and Silva, were sold in the summer, but players like Pablo Hernandez, Aritz Aduriz and the precocious Juan Mata have filled the gap.
Rangers (probable, 5-4-1): McGregor; Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Broadfoot, Papac; Weiss, Davis, Edu, Naismith; Miller.
Valencia (probable, 4-5-1): César; Bruno, Navarro, Costa, Mathieu; Pablo, Albelda, Fernandes, Banega, Mata; Soldado.
Referee: N Rizzoli (Italy).
TV: Sky Sports 4, Sky Sports HD4.
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