Michael Beale believes Rangers will need to produce their biggest performance in his time as manager when they face PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Champions League play-off match at Ibrox.
The sides go head to head with a place in the group stage of the elite competition at stake and the Dutch side have said they are in search of “revenge” after being knocked out at this stage last season.
PSV are in strong form going into the match,having beaten Sturm Graz 7-2 on aggregate in the previous round and having enjoyed a winning start to the domestic season.
Rangers manager Beale says his side are going to face a real test, and his objective for the first leg is to put Rangers in as strong a position as possible, knowing the return trip to Eindhoven will be a harder task.
“It’s about setting the second leg up,” he said. “We know we’ll need to go across to Eindhoven and put in a fantastic performance regardless of what happens tomorrow.
“We’re up against a formidable opponent. When I look at the draw for the other games, I think we’re playing against probably the strongest side we could play right now – the sternest test that we’ll probably face across the season.
“We’re looking for a result that will set up the second leg in Eindhoven.”
Rangers got the results they needed in the two-legs of the third qualifying round against Servette but Beale says they’ll have to take a big step up to prevail against PSV.
“They’re a very, very good team,” he said. “They’ve invested in the squad heavily, with really good players.
“Offensively, they’re an excellent team. If we were to come out the other side of it, it would be because of two really, really big performances.”
Reaching the group stage of the competition for the second year running would bring prestige and a considerable cash boost but it is also a huge incentive for the players, who want to play against the best in the game.
The Rangers boss added: “Ultimately that’s why I ran back to Glasgow when the opportunity came. Managing this club, those are the opportunities it gives you.
“When I was speaking to the players in the summer, this opportunity was huge.
“You want to pit yourself against the best and our fans want to see the big nights here in Europe, so let’s go hell for leather for that.
“It’s certainly important to the players because I know it’s their dream and ambition. It would be important because it means more finances coming in than if we go into the Europa League.
“We know we’re guaranteed that so these two games we can play them with a clear mind and go straight for them. We don’t need to worry if we’re in or out.
“I’ve sat beside Steven Gerrard when we had real do-or-die moments against Galatasaray, Legia Warsaw, Ufa for example where it was to get into Europe or not.
“So with this one, we know we’re up to European football until Christmas.
“In our way is an excellent team but it’s a fantastic opportunity for everybody.”