Rangers manager Philippe Clement wants his players to be sharp to the threat from Aris Limassol but aims to avoid any “negativity” by dwelling on defeat to the Cypriots last time the teams met.
Aris earned a shock 2-1 win over Rangers in Cyprus in early October when the Ibrox side were under the temporary stewardship of Steven Davis after Michael Beale’s sacking.
Clement’s appointment shortly after signalled a turnaround in results, with the Belgian undefeated in eight games so far.
His side could take another step forward with a victory at Ibrox on Thursday, knowing that beating Aris would guarantee European football after Christmas as well as setting up a final day showdown with Real Betis to win the group.
To give them the best chance, Clement believes the players must put aside any memory of the defeat to Aris, while staying aware of what the Cypriot side is capable of.
“I don’t want them to think about the last game because it can always create some negativity in your heads,” he said. “Aris is a tough challenge because they are a difficult team.
“They attack with a lot of numbers, have a lot of speed and several individuals who can decide the game with one action.
“They play less predictably than other teams because the attacking part is based on individuals rather than the collective.
“So we need to play an organised game and be smart.”
The manager will face some big selection decisions, with Connor Goldson missing through suspension and Nico Raskin and Ryan Jack still sidelined through injury. Scott Wright is a doubt for the game as he has suffered from illness as well as having a muscle problem.
The problems are exacerbated by the fact that Leon Balogun and Ridvan Yilmaz are not registered for European competition, with Clement once again highlighting Michael Beale’s decision to leave them out of the squad that was sent to UEFA.
“There are a few players out because they are not on the list,” the manager said. “It’s not a nice thing to say but I need to repeat it every time.
“Those are players who did good things in the last couple of weeks.”
The Rangers boss was also asked for his take on news from rule-making body IFAB that there are considerations for wider use of VAR to check a range of incidents such as corners, and a recommendation for high-level trials of ‘sin bins’ for dissent and tactical fouls.
Clement was not impressed, stating that he supported VAR for major decisions but that further change risked turning the sport into “a circus”.
He said: “That is a difficult thing for me because I think it becomes a little bit of a circus with players coming in and out constantly during the game.
“Some people are already protesting against VAR because it stops the game and the referee needs to go off and on but it makes the game more honest.
“You need to see the negatives things are for me, less than the positive things in that way, that you get more honest results so I am positive about that.
“But if the players need to go off for two minutes, five minutes or whatever, because of a yellow card, what is the moment to come on?
“It is already difficult at the moment if you have an injured player and he is on the sideline, it is sometimes difficult to get them in and you have a big discussion with the referees, where is the ball and what is the danger and whatever.
“So I think it would create more fuss than necessary. I don’t think it is good to stop the game more than it is now.
“It is necessary to be really good in the important decisions. If we stop the game all the time we don’t get fluid football and it destroys the game.”
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