It's the return of Match day fixture 1 in this latest Champions League instalment and Rangers are still in with a chance of Champions League knock out phase qualification. Brave and battling performances in the group so far have yielded 5 points and of these points none were more impressive than the point picked up on the opening day at United's self proclaimed 'Theatre of Dreams'.
A brave Rangers side went with a game plan and defended with their lives, executing the plan to successful levels in enough to escape with both their dignity and that most valuable point. Rangers were well worthy of that point and should make no apologies about how we went about our business, sadly injury has blighted this next fixture and I think I speak for most Rangers fans who craved the opportunity to go at United with a full strength team at a noisy Ibrox on a classic European night. Tomorrow threatens to be an all to different scenario as an under strength Gers side face the joint Barclays league leaders, but you would just be plain foolish to write this Rangers side off just yet.
Most would agree that the Champions League draw was a tough one with Spanish and English opposition, not to mention the free spending Turkish champions into the equation also. I think most would also agree that the performances have been very credible and the team have given the fans reason to be proud of there efforts. Tomorrow night we once again ask the players to dig deep into their resources and pull out another brave battling display.
From the First leg Rangers are definitely without Madjid Bougherra and Maurice Edu, Sasa Papac also remains a huge doubt. With two out of the five who played at the back in Manchester potentially out, Rangers will perhaps have to rely on Richard Foster filling in at wing back but can be confident in his performance against Valencia to know that he is indeed capable. Kirk Broadfoot may also continue at Centre back alongside Weir but it is depending on the system the management decide to go with. Will it be five or four at the back? I think this remains the big question as we head into this game, but is something which (trying to look at the positives) is a good thing and should keep United guessing.
Man United were somewhat embarrassed at Old Trafford by their inability to break down a resilient Rangers side. Many pundits tipped a whitewash (Phil Thompson predicted 4-0 United on Sky) but in truth United never really tested Allan McGregor and Rangers were well worthy of their point gained. United decided to make several changes and came unstuck, this time United will come to Ibrox full strength looking to secure the point that will see them secure qualification into the knock out stages. I would expect United to come at Rangers quickly and try to secure that early goal to try and avoid the game panning out similar to the first clash. Most would also expect Rangers outlet to be defensive but perhaps more expansive seeing as Rangers must win the match. All in all it is set up for a block busting night at a packed Ibrox.
Sir Alex Ferguson vs. Walter Smith also adds an impressive conundrum to the match. Ex Ranger Ferguson had Walter Smith as his assistant for 6 months and it has been said no one knows Sir Alex better than Walter. Walter describes Sir Alex as one of his closest friends and I am sure both will be after the bragging rights after tomorrows momentous clash. What is clear about United is they won't underestimate Rangers again and I expect Sir Alex will play a full strength United team, boasting stars such as Evra, Hernandez, Van der Sar and the much maligned Wayne Rooney. United still unbeaten this campaign joined Chelsea at the top of the EPL after the Blues suffered a third defeat in four outings. United have however shown signs of severe weaknesses in their defence, especially from set pieces and with Rio Ferdinand injured they face more upheaval to the back line ahead of the Ibrox clash. Rangers certainly have scope to be positive against Untied who are certainly not unbeatable.
Most will tip Manchester United to win the match but Rangers should fear nothing after credible performances both home and away to Valencia. Rangers have time and time again under Smith shown that they are never beaten and never more dangerous when they are written off. Tomorrow is a similar circumstance and with a packed Ibrox providing a backing who would bet against the Rangers pulling out an other sensational Champions League result ? One thing for sure this latest 'Battle of Britain' has all the ingredients to be a classic and one in which the Rangers should not fear.
Good luck Walter Smith and all the Players, we will be with you….