Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Steven Davis learned Rangers Euro lessons the hard way

Steven Davis

Steven Davis believes Rangers' European future this season will be shaped by tonight's Champions League clash with Valencia at Ibrox.

Walter Smith's side have four points from their first two Group C games against Manchester United at Old Trafford and Bursaspor in Govan and now face back-to-back games against the highly-rated Spanish club.

The Rangers midfielder stressed the importance of taking points from a talented team who most people favour to challenge United for top spot.

“Your home games are the games which will get you through and we have managed to beat Bursaspor,” Cullybackey man Davis said.

“So this game is a massive one in terms of where we are going to go in this group.

“You want to get as many points on board as soon as possible and so far we have done well but that will mean nothing unless we build on that, and so it is important to get a result tomorrow night.”

Davis added: “European nights are great to be involved in.

“There is usually a great atmosphere, and on the back of a couple of good results to start with, tomorrow night will be a great game and a great atmosphere.

“But we know what we are up against and we will have to be at our best.”

The Northern Ireland international hopes the Rangers players have discarded the naivety which he believes cost them so dearly in last season's Champions League campaign.

The Light Blues lost all three group matches at Ibrox, including an embarrassing 4-1 defeat by Romanian champions Unirea Urziceni, and finished bottom with two points.

However, the Scottish champions have looked more solid in their first two European games this season with a more defensive-minded formation.

“It has been a learning curve for many of us,” the former Fulham player said.

“Last year was the first Champions League experience for many of us and we were probably naive in the way we went about it.

“We seen the group and we were optimistic to begin with but we were probably naive and we were punished for the mistakes that we made.

“This year the manager has set us up in a different formation to make us harder to beat and within that we have players capable of getting us goals and so far it has worked quite well.

“Last year we probably tried to do too much (attacking) and we got punished for it.

“So far we have learned from that but it remains to be seen if we can continue that and get a good result tomorrow night.”

Smith, who is sweating on the fitness of defender Kirk Broadfoot, believes his side will go in to the game with a confidence that was missing in last season's Euro campaign.

“After our first defeat at home last year there was a bit of trepidation,” he said.

“But we are in the position where we have a bit more confidence.

“We have managed to get off to a good start, better than last year, and we have had to work extremely hard to get the four points.

We are delighted to have them but the next three games are against the two favoured teams (Valencia and Manchester United). Two of those games are at home and last season we found it difficult to get points at home.”

The Rangers boss, however, is aware of the threat Valencia will bring to Ibrox.

He said: “We have to retain a good edge on our game.

“They have an excellent quality throughout the team.

“We played Sevilla last year and they finished below Valencia.

“Sevilla gave us two difficult games so we know we will have to match, if not better, our performance so far in the Champions League.”

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