Graeme Souness warns Rangers that Benfica could be wounded and angry

Rangers are travelling to Lisbon for their Europa League first leg match on Thursday.

Graeme Souness has warned Rangers that they will be facing a difficult challenge when they take on Benfica – with the Portuguese side smarting from two high-profile defeats.

The teams meet in Lisbon on Thursday in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie, with both sides coming off the back of weekend defeats.

While Rangers suffered a shock loss to Motherwell at Ibrox, Benfica were on the end of a record 5-0 defeat to bitter rivals Porto. That came after they had been beaten in the Portuguese Cup by fellow Lisbon side Sporting in their previous game.

Souness, who managed both Rangers and Benfica, says the recent results could make Roger Schmidt’s side something of a wounded animal.

“Benfica are a fantastic football club,” he said. “I worked there for two years.

“They’ll be hurting right now because last week they lost to Sporting, their city rivals, and also to historically their biggest rivals in Porto.

“So Rangers will be facing a team that will be feeling sorry for themselves or meeting one that’s really angry and firing on all cylinders.

“It’s not easy going there. It’s a giant of a football club. Much loved in Portugal and for me it was two fantastic years. I loved every minute of it.”

Rangers will hope for a positive result ahead of the return leg at Ibrox next week and Souness says the best way to achieve that is with maximum concentration and treating Benfica with the respect he believes they deserve.

“It’s a special club they are going to play,” he said.

“But they have to go there and somehow keep the crowd quiet. Don’t do anything daft in the first part of the game and see where it takes them.

“It won’t be easy for them.

“They have to prepare for the worst and playing the best version of Benfica. Don’t be looking at the last couple of results and think they’re guaranteed not to be at it.

“There’s every chance they might be.”

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