Smith claims Rangers enjoying living up to CL expectations

Walter Smith insists Rangers can cope with the pressure of expectations of a last-16 place in the Champions League.

Walter Smith insists Rangers can cope with the pressure of expectations of a last-16 place in the Champions League.

The Scottish champions were all but written off when the draw was made and they found themselves in a section which also includes Manchester United, Valencia and Turkish champions Bursaspor.

They head into Tuesday night's clash with Valencia a point ahead of their Spanish hosts and Smith believes the home side are not the only ones expected to deliver on the night.

He said: "There is no doubt there is pressure on us to get a result tomorrow night, it's not just Valencia who want to do well in the tournament.

"We have started well and we welcome the extra pressure that's on us at the present moment. To see if we can try to remain in the tournament after Christmas is a pressure that's welcome.

"Last season, we were never in this position and we are quite pleased to be in it at the moment."

However, Smith claims Valencia are still favourites to progress from Group C, along with Manchester United.

He said: "Valencia would have started as anyone's favourite at the start of the campaign.

"Manchester United and Valencia were the two favoured teams to remain in the Champions League. I still think that's the case.

"You mention Valencia's last two results but when you lose the players they lost in the close-season, it always takes a bit of time to find your feet.

"They did so exceptionally well in the early part but there were always going to be one or two problems.

"For the last few seasons, David Villa has been their top goalscorer and, when there was a little bit of a problem, he would do something special to win a game.

"Maybe in the last couple of games they haven't had that but overall they are still an extremely strong team and still the favoured team to go through in this competition."

Valencia's fans were clearly unhappy after their 1-1 draw with Real Zaragoza at the weekend and their coach Unai Emery called for their backing and patience for this game.

"I don't think it's something we would be particularly looking to exploit," said Smith.

"It's natural for any away team to try to frustrate the home support a little bit. It happens to us on a regular basis and it happens to the majority of teams.

"I don't think this game will be any different from that aspect."

Smith added: "It's a game that both the teams want to win. There are still three games left in the section and both the teams will want to do as well as they can.

"We would look to win every game, that's why we play the games. We always look to try to win the game.

"At home we opened up a little bit and created a few opportunities in that game and we were disappointed not to win.

"We know this will be a different type of game tomorrow night. Valencia at home would be a difficult game for anybody to play."

 
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