Walter Smith is relying on Rangers’s impressive home form to see them through to the last 16 of the Champions League as Group E.
Lyon arrive in Glasgow with the two sides level on seven points, Rangers only need a draw to reach the knockout stage thanks to their 3-0 win away in France on Matchday 2.
Rangers’ hold an eleven-match unbeaten home run in European competition, but Smith is taking nothing for grantd tonight.
“That statistic is something we obviously hope we can keep up,” said Smith. “We maybe caught teams a bit cold earlier in the group, but Lyon’s pride will have been dented by losing 3-0 at home in the first game. They’ll have a far greater level of motivation for this one, so although we have a really good home record it will still have to be an exceptionally good performance from us to progress.
“We have a lot of work to do in that respect,” added Smith. “From a personal point of view, we have to try and hopefully join Celtic in the last 16, but it will take a big performance from us to do that. Lyon have good players all over the pitch, including a couple of young players [Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa] who will be rated among the best in Europe in the next few years.”
Rangers enjoyed a weekend off to prepare for tonight’s showdown, but Smith still finds himself deprived of key men with the trio of DaMarcus Beasley (knee), Jean-Claude Darcheville (hamstring) and Nacho Novo (shoulder) all ruled out. Daniel Cousin is expected to be handed a lone-striker role with Brahim Hemdani used in a holding midfield position.
Lyon coach Alain Perrin says his players are fired up for tonight’s game.
“We’re going to have real drive to qualify for the last 16,” he said.
However, Perrin admits that all the pressure is on his team.
“Rangers are the favourites because they’re better placed to qualify. They only need a draw and they have their supporters behind them,” said Perrin, who is still without Brazilian trio Cris, Fabio Santos and Fred as well as defender Patrick Muller.
“Obviously I have been involved in big matches with previous clubs but this is the biggest challenge,” added the French coach.