Rangers Walter Smith calling for spirit of 2008
Walter Smith admits Rangers will have to replicate the impressive form which took them all the way to the UEFA Cup final if they are to progress past Sporting Lisbon in the latter stages of the Europa League.
The Scottish champions were paired with the Portuguese outfit in yesterday's draw for the last 32 of the competition, with Lille or PSV Eindhoven waiting in the next round if they advance.
Rangers defeated Sporting at the quarter-final stage in 2008 and got as far as the final in Manchester where they were beaten by Zenit St Petersburg.
The 2-0 aggregate win, as well as some credible performances in the Champions League this season, provides encouragement ahead of the tie in February, but Smith insists there is no chance of Rangers taking their opponents lightly.
He said: “We know we will face two really tough games because they are playing well at the moment and we had to play well to win there last time out.
“We played some good football against them across the two legs and we will really have to repeat those kinds of levels to have success in the Europa League.
“Pedro Mendes is there so we know the quality of player that we will face.”
Like the last time, Rangers play the first leg at Ibrox and Smith is hoping to claim an early advantage in the tie.
He added: “We've got good experience now in Europe and we'll need to use that to handle the situations. You can use every element to your advantage and we can try to do that with having the first leg at home.
“There is plenty of time before the games, we will have them watched and will know what we are up against.”