Do or die for Rangers

By Danny Law
Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers manager Walter Smith

Rangers can resurrect their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a win over Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart tonight.

The Gers have endured a woeful campaign so far with only two points from four matches, including two 4-1 home defeats to Sevilla and little known Romanian outfit Unirea Urziceni.

Despite their poor form in Europe’s elite club competition, Walter Smith’s men would give themselves a favourable chance of earning a place in the last 16 if they take all three points against the Germans, who currently sit only one point above them in the group.

The Ibrox side could start the must-win match without star defender Madjid Bougherra after the Algerian failed to return from international duty on time after his side’s sudden death play-off victory over Egypt last week.

Teenager Danny Wilson, who turned in a man of the match performance in the 3-0 win over Kilmarnock at the weekend, may be given the nod to continue at the heart of defence with Bougherra left kicking his heels on the bench.

Smith has always edged on the side of caution on European nights, more often than not favouring a lone striker in place of the two-pronged attack more often deployed during less demanding league fixtures.

Kris Boyd, the club’s top scorer this season with eight goals, has not started in the Champions League since a qualifying match against Montenegrin side Zeta in 2007 but may be offered a rare start with Smith knowing his side cannot afford anything less than three points.

And the Rangers supporters will be expecting their side to take maximum points against a side currently sitting third bottom of the Bundesliga.

Markus Babbel’s side did, however, prove their worth with a hard-fought draw against group leaders Sevilla in Spain a fortnight ago.

But the Rangers players will go into the match knowing they owe their supporters a performance after two crushing home defeats and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Smith’s charges won a tight and nervy encounter by the odd goal.

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