Steven Gerrard said his Rangers side go into their Europa League play-off against Galatasaray with respect for the Turkish giants but no fear.
The sides clash at Ibrox on Thursday with the winner going into the Europa League group stage and Fatih Terim’s side are likely to be the toughest opponents Rangers have faced so far this season.
Gerrard acknowledged the step up in quality but said that his players were going into the tie on a run of strong form and with every reason to be confident.
“Galatasaray are a good team,” he said. “They have fantastic players and a good coach.
“From experience, in the last two years we have noticed that there has been a rise in quality as you progress through the rounds and Galatasaray are a well-known team with big experience on the European stage. We know it’s going to be a tough task for us.
“Galatasaray are probably everyone’s favourites but I would say we are going into this tie in a good place and we are in good form at home.
“Our plan is to leave everything out there and see where it takes us.
Galatasaray failed to win a game in last season’s Champions League group stage but have knocked out Neftci and Hajduk Split in their Europa League qualifiers this term and are undefeated in their opening three league games. Gerrard said he was aware of quality throughout their side.
“I think the main strength to Galatasaray’s team is the spine,” he said. “The two centre-backs (Christian Luyindama and Marcao) are big, strong, powerful and quick and that filters right through to Radamel Falcao.
“So we have big respect for the team (on Thursday). We have no fear but we have huge respect.”
An added incentive for Rangers is that a win would go a long way to improving Scotland’s hopes of direct entry into the Champions League group stages.
A rise in coefficient points won by Scottish teams in recent years has seen the nation climb up UEFA’s access list, which determines how many places a country gets in European competition and what stage teams enter at.
Turkey sit directly above Scotland and a home victory at Ibrox would increase the chance of leapfrogging into the elite group.
“I think it would be a big boost for the country,” Gerrard said. “It’s something they haven’t had for a long time.
“The teams in Scotland have been working ever so hard to improve that, chipping away and I think we’ve done our part. I’m very proud of the players and what we’ve done as a group to improve the coefficient.
“The main priority is to always focus on ourselves and it is a huge fixture for us.
“It’s vitally important that we try and get through it and come out victorious tomorrow.”