• STV
  • MySTV

Analysis: Rangers need big performance on and off the pitch

Travelling supporters will be in the spotlight as much as their team in Portugal tonight.

Rangers players take in their surroundings at the  Estadio do Dragao.
Rangers players take in their surroundings at the Estadio do Dragao. SNS

It should a celebration of how far Rangers have come on the pitch as they face their toughest European task under Steven Gerrard.

But many eyes will assessing the strides made by the away support as they watch their side take on FC Porto on Thursday evening.

To their credit, Rangers fans do seem to have changed their tune since the club was hammered by UEFA over offensive songs (resulting in sections of Ibrox twice being closed), but the trip to the Estadio do Dragao will provide the true test.

Gerrard issued a rallying call to the travelling faithful during his media conference on Wednesday, saying: "Show everyone why you're the best fans in the world."

The 2000 or so Rangers fans who have made the trip to Portugal seem to be loving life as, on the pitch, Gerrard's side continue to show signs of improvement.

Having once again negotiated eight gruelling qualification games to reach the Europa League group stage, their reward was a mouth-watering schedule featuring Porto, Young Boys and Feyenoord.

https://stv.tv/sport/football/1440228-rangers-ordered-to-close-part-of-ibrox-after-sectarian-singing-charge/ | default

Those supporters do have a sense of realism. After all, Porto are heavy favourites to win the group and are strong contenders to lift the trophy come May. It's undoubtedly going to take something special for Rangers to head home with anything to show for their efforts.

Gerrard will be looking for major improvements after his side lost their Premiership lead by drawing 1-1 at Hearts on Sunday. 

Defensive mistakes by captain James Tavernier have cost the Gers both domestically and in that last-gasp defeat to Young Boys in the second Europa League matchday.

The right-back has come under-fire for recent performances and the skipper must repay the faith Gerrard has shown in him by putting in a performance.

Elsewhere, Alfredo Morelos taking on Pepe will be a must-watch battle. Take a temperamental striker and add possibly the most divisive and controversial defender in world football, one known for his antics and dirty tactics, mix in a raucous 50,000 support in the stadium and it makes for an unmissable duel.

https://stv.tv/sport/football/1440332-rangers-the-offensive-behaviour-of-our-fans-must-end/ | default

Morelos' quality will be huge for Rangers tonight, but the whole side will need to show they've learned from past mistakes. The defence must be watertight to take on a task difficult enough without shooting themselves in the foot.

It's a big night also for the attacking players, whoever Gerrard picks. The power of Morelos, pace of Ryan Kent and power of Sheyi Ojo could all be crucial.

Make no bones about it, Porto are a European powerhouse. Rangers need to "max out", as Gerrard said in his media conference, and hope the Portuguese side have an off day. But they aren't impenetrable. Feyenoord found a way to beat them and Rangers are arguably a superior side to their Dutch counterparts.

These next two games with Porto will be tough in a group certain to be tight when all is said and done.

But if Rangers can leave the Estadio do Dragao with a result, it could go a long way to securing a place in the last 32.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.