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Page last updated at 05:23 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 06:23 UK

Rangers & Zenit chase Uefa glory

UEFA CUP FINAL
Venue: City of Manchester Stadium Date: Wed 14 May Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Scotland, full text coverage on BBC Sport website

Walter Smith comes face to face with Dick Advocaat
Smith comes face to face with ex-Rangers boss Advocaat

Rangers face Zenit St Petersburg in Wednesday's Uefa Cup final in Manchester aiming to land the second of a possible four trophies this season.

The Glasgow giants have won a European trophy before - the Cup-Winners' Cup - in 1972, while the Russian champions are chasing a first European honour.

In an added twist, Zenit, the odds-on favourites, are managed by former Rangers boss Dick Advocaat.

More than 100,000 Rangers fans are expected to travel to the game.

That is despite a club ticket allocation of only 13,000, and the fact that the City of Manchester stadium has a capacity of 44,000.

Big screens have been put up in the city to allow ticketless fans to watch the game.

Rangers manager Walter Smith is unconcerned by the critic of his team's tactics as he aims to bring Scotland its first European trophy since Aberdeen beat Real Madrid in the 1983 Cup-Winners' Cup final.

"So far, we've had a lot of negative comments about us," he said.

I honestly could not imagine that we could reach a European final so quickly

Rangers manager Walter Smith

"We've had a lot of situations where people say that Rangers play anti-football, rubbish football or whatever.

"But, for a first-year team, we've settled in well and, for those teams that have lost to us, if they are that good, why have they not beaten us?"

Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen and Fiorentina have been dispatched, along with Sporting since Rangers qualified via their position in the Champions League group stage.

The Glasgow outfit have also already won the CIS Insurance Cup, will play Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup final and are vying with holders Celtic for the Scottish Premier League title.

It is a far cry from the struggling outfit Smith inherited from Paul Le Guen when the Scot returned for his second spell as Rangers boss in January 2007.

"The European competition is obviously not one we thought we would get as far in, so it's a nice surprise," Smith said.

"But Zenit have also had a terrific season, won their championship and find themselves in the final too. It will be a very difficult game.

We are one game away from making history

Zenit St Petersburg coach Dick Advocaat

"We've carried a little bit of luck on the way, but we have put a lot into the games.

"We've found ourselves a bit ahead of schedule, but there are no complaints there."

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "I want to send to Walter Smith and the whole Rangers team my best wishes."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Rangers' success in reaching the final of the Uefa Cup has been fabulous for the club and has enhanced Scotland's reputation in the footballing world."

When Rangers beat Dundee United on Saturday, it was their third SPL game in seven days of a packed schedule.

Exhaustion will be no excuse for Advocaat's side, who have had their fixtures postponed by a home federation anxious to help Zenit emulate CSKA Moscow's 2005 victory.

Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich were among the sides swept away in some style on the way to the final.

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"The build-up has been about Zenit being the favourites and I like that - I hope they are right," said Advocaat.

"But Rangers have reached the Uefa Cup final and the Scottish Cup final, they have won the League Cup and will hopefully win the SPL, so they must be a balanced side and they deserve respect in Scotland.

"But having come so far, we have to win the final. We are one game away from making history."

"I told the players: If we have one chance to win the Uefa Cup, this is it. With the quality we have shown, we can play against any team."

Rangers will be hoping that playing Russian opposition is a good omen, their 3-2 victory in Barcelona having been achieved against Dinamo Moscow.

The parallels with that previous success do not stop there.

Willie Waddell's team beat Sporting Lisbon on their way to the final, built their success on high work-rate and a strong defence and they were accused of playing "anti-football" - in their case by the coach of Rennes.




see also
Uefa Cup final tactics
14 May 08 |  Europe
Echoes of 1972
13 May 08 |  Rangers
Rangers match reaction
14 May 08 |  Rangers
Rangers convoy hits road to final
13 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Zenit match reaction
14 May 08 |  Rangers
Rangers player profiles
13 May 08 |  Rangers
Racism warning for Zenit support
12 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Advocaat's Rangers legacy
13 May 08 |  Rangers
Zenit St Petersburg v Rangers
14 May 08 |  Europe
Hateley backing Smith's approach
12 May 08 |  Rangers


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