Benfica a ‘different challenge’ from Porto & Braga, says Rangers’ Gerrard

Abel Ruiz and Steven Davis
Rangers beat Benfica’s league rivals Braga home and away last season
Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon Date: Thursday, 5 November Time: 17:55 GMT
Coverage: Listen to live commentary on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW and follow updates on the BBC Sport website & app

Rangers can use their experience of facing Portuguese sides last season, but manager Steven Gerrard stressed Benfica pose a “different challenge”.

Rangers were unbeaten against Porto in the group stage of last season’s Europa League, winning the match at Ibrox.

And they beat Braga home and away to reach the last 16.

“We can certainly tap into that experience and try and use that to take confidence from it and use it as belief going into the game,” said Gerrard.

“But it is a different challenge, a different team. It is a huge challenge, but for sure we are going to have to find a performance that is of the level of Porto and Braga if we have got any chance.

“Benfica have started the strongest in terms of the Portuguese teams this season.”

Rangers have opened Europa League Group D with a 2-0 win away to Standard Liege and a 1-0 home victory against Lech Poznan.

Team news

Rangers winger Jordan Jones and defender George Edmundson are self-isolating for 14 days, have been suspended by the club for breaching Covid-19 protocols and both face Scottish FA charges. However, neither players is in Rangers’ Europa League squad. Centre-back Nikola Katic remains out with a knee injury.

Benfica are missing four players through injury – defenders Jean-Clair Todibo, Andre Almeida and Alejandro Grimaldo plus goalkeeper Mile Svilar.

What do we know about Benfica?

The Portuguese giants were European Cup winners in 1961 and ’62 and have been Champions League regulars in recent years, last winning their domestic title in 2019.

After losing a qualifier to PAOK this season, Benfica dropped into the Europa League – a competition they reached the final of in 2013 and ’14.

They have made a perfect start to top Group D with a 4-2 win at Lech Poznan and 3-0 home victory over Standard Liege. But their winning start to the Portuguese top tier was shattered in a shock 3-0 defeat at Boavista on Monday.

What they said

Benfica manager Jorge Jesus told Sport TV: “The striker (Alfredo Morelos) is very well known. He’s a Colombian who doesn’t have much of a playing style, he doesn’t have an elegant aesthetic, but he’s very dangerous. He’s got that style like Gerd Muller.

“They (Rangers) play in a very complicated system, they try to imitate Liverpool’s 4-3-3, which I know from playing against them in the Club World Cup final. They’ll create more problems for us than the teams we’ve faced so far. Whoever wins will have the best chance of qualifying and it’s sure to be a fiercely contested game.”

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard: “We come into it in confident mood and we have started the season ever so well. We have got the majority of the squad available, fit and well and ready to go.

“Benfica are littered with fantastic players, international players. You’ve got Brazilians, Germans, Portuguese, Belgian and Argentinian internationals. They’re littered with superstars. That just gets the juices flowing even more and make you want to get a result even more.”

Match stats

  • This will be the first meeting of the sides in European competition.
  • Benfica have hosted Scottish opponents five times, winning each of them. The past four have been against Celtic.
  • Rangers are unbeaten in 11 matches against Portuguese sides, winning the past three.
  • Including the qualification rounds, Rangers have won all three away matches in Europe this season, by an aggregate scoreline of 11-0.
  • Benfica’s Pizzi has scored in each of Benfica’s four Europa League games in 2020 while Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos is one goal away from breaking Ally McCoist’s club record of 21 European goals.

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