🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Does Ibrox factor give Rangers edge over Benfica? – www.bbc.co.uk

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Date Heure de publication : 2024-03-08 00:42:11

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Rangers came close to ‘miracle’ – Clement

“I don’t think they’ll like coming to Ibrox… so game on.”

Rangers midfielder and opening goalscorer Tom Lawrence calmly underlined the confidence he and his team-mates have when playing on their own patch in the Europa League, after their thrilling 2-2 draw with Benfica in Lisbon.

It may sound bold, even arrogant, but the confidence is grounded in plenty of evidence.

Rangers are unbeaten in nine home matches in the Europa League, having vanquished plenty of big clubs in Govan, in particular on their road to the final in 2022.

RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund, Porto, Feyenoord, and Benfica themselves, to name a few, have all failed to win at Ibrox in recent seasons.

So with that strong record, forged by a marriage of team and fans, are Rangers now favourites to defeat Benfica and reach the quarter-finals?

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“It’s an advantage it’s at Ibrox and if our fans are on top of it from the first second to the last second they can give a lot of energy to the team,” said Rangers boss Philippe Clement.

“But we stay realistic about the qualities of Benfica. You guys wrote this week about the difference in transfer budgets. If we can eliminate this team, it would be a big, big, thing.”

Rangers ‘favourites’ after near ‘miracle’

You might expect the Rangers boss to stay circumspect and keep things calm before the return next Thursday.

He said they were close to a “miracle” in the Estadio da Luz, with Connor Goldson’s own goal preventing Rangers from becoming the first side to win away at Benfica in the Europa League.

The stern Belgian knows better than to get carried away. However, he will also know the power of Ibrox not only to elevate his own players, but reduce more illustrious opponents to a frantic rabble.

On their run to the 2022 final – under Giovanni van Bronckhorst – Rangers scored 11 goals in four home knockout games as Ibrox rocked.

“This Rangers team in Europe always carry a threat, they’re always in the games,” former Rangers striker Kenny Miller said on BBC Scotland’s Sportsound.

“The European nights seem to bring out the best in them. Rangers with that crowd, it won’t be easy. They’ll have energy coming from the stands and they’ll need to put that into their performance.

“I’ve watched Rangers a lot in Europe over the last few years. We do our game a bit of a disservice. We think of Benfica, Porto, Leipzig, Villareal, Dortmund and we talk them up about how good they are.

“All those teams have come to Ibrox and Rangers have never been out the game, they’ve won most of them. They’ve beaten bigger teams than Benfica.”

The other dimension is Benfica’s faltering away form. Roger Schmidt’s side are winless in four on the road, including a goalless draw in the last round against Toulouse, and losses to Portuguese rivals Sporting and Porto.

“I don’t think Rangers have anything to fear as they go back to Ibrox next Thursday,” said former Rangers striker Steven Thompson.

“I think this (draw) will give them a massive boost in terms of knowing they can match this team. And you expect Rangers at home to create more opportunities, and better opportunities.

“So it is finely in the balance the tie, but with Rangers’ Europa League home form, I would put them as favourites to progress.

“If they did against a club of the size and history of Benfica, it would be a phenomenal achievement.”

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