Walter Smith urges Rangers to show no fear

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The Independent Football

Walter Smith insists there is no reason for Rangers to fear their Champions League clash with Manchester United.

He believes his players will relish the challenge when they host the Group C leaders at Ibrox tonight as they bid to keep their own last 16 hopes alive.

The Scottish champions need a win to have a chance of progressing to the knockout stages of the tournament and Smith insists everyone at Rangers is looking forward to the tussle with the Barclays Premier League giants.

He said: "I don't think it's fear factor. It's a challenge we have to face up to.

"There is no doubt that they are a terrific side and we know that.

"They have used somewhere in the region of 27 players in the Champions League so far so they have a huge squad of players to choose from.

"It's not a fear aspect, it's a challenge for us. Any footballer, or any manager, would look forward to it.

"The players will look forward to the game, they look forward to all the Champions League games.

"There will be a full house and there is always a terrific atmosphere.

"I think it would be strange if any footballer didn't relish the opportunity to play in that atmosphere against a good side."

Defeat in Valencia allowed the Spaniards to leapfrog Rangers into the coveted second spot behind United but Smith has been thrilled with their efforts so far, following a dismal campaign last term.

He said: "I think we've performed in a manner I would hope we were capable of doing. In the last Champions League campaign, our home form was poor.

"This season it's been a bit better and hopefully that will continue.

"When we were going into the section, we were looking at trying to keep ourselves involved in Europe after Christmas. That's still within our grasp.

"We've had our disappointments but if we can achieve the goal of keeping ourselves in Europe after Christmas, that would be terrific for us, regardless of how the remaining two games go, but we want to do as well as we can."

Rangers opened their campaign with a goalless draw at Old Trafford but Smith says subsequent games have also lifted their confidence.

He added: "The Champions League overall has been decent for us in that respect. We have gained a bit.

"We were under a bit of pressure due to the fact that performances the previous year weren't so good.

"This year they have been better so we have taken a bit of confidence from that but this game is against the club who are the best side in the section. There is no doubt about that.

"They've handled all the games very well and we will have our work cut out."

The stalemate in Manchester garnered mixed reviews but skipper David Weir believes Rangers deserve credit for their efforts in the game as they bid to go one better tonight.

He said: "I don't know about matching them but it was an achievement in the respect that we didn't concede a goal and that was part of the game plan.

"There are not many teams who go to Old Trafford and don't concede goals.

"Personally, I think it's an achievement because, being a defender, there is also an art in that.

"As a team, we worked really hard and defended really hard.

"Sometimes we come up against it here so we've been on the other side of the coin and there is definitely a skill involved in it.

"In an ideal world you would have goals in the game but sometimes a nil-nil can be a decent game as well."