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Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 15:20 UK

Fabiano plots Rangers downfall

Champions League
Venue: Ibrox Date: Tuesday 29 Sept Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Scotland MW

Luis Fabiano
Luis Fabiano has proved he has an eye for goal for club and country

By Thomas McGuigan

Rangers defender David Weir could be forgiven for having a Luis Fabiano-induced nightmare ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash against Sevilla.

The 39-year-old Weir has been a rock at the heart of the Rangers defence for what seems like an eternity.

But the veteran will have to be at his immovable best to nullify the threat of the razor-sharp Brazilian.

Fabiano is the complete striker: skilful, strong in the air and lightning quick with an eye for goal.

Just ask Argentina. Earlier this month Fabiano put them to the sword with a double in Brazil's 3-1 World Cup qualifying victory in Rosario.

His second goal and Brazil's third saw him race onto Kaka's through-pass and dink the ball perfectly over the onrushing goalkeeper Mariano Andujar into the net.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona, arms folded, shook his head ruefully in the dugout.

Rangers supporters will be hoping manager Walter Smith doesn't experience similar emotions at Ibrox on Tuesday.

Sevilla enjoy a two-point lead over Rangers at the top of Group G, following their 2-0 opening-day win over Unirea Urziceni.

Sevilla midfielders Diego Capel and Renato
Sevilla midfielders Diego Capel and Renato have been in fine form

The Ibrox side opened with an impressive 1-1 draw away to Stuttgart.

BBC Sport's blogger on Spanish football Phil Minshull told BBC Scotland that Fabiano is a player at the top of his game.

"He's a star at the moment for the Brazilian national side and is scoring goals on a regular basis for Sevilla. He's going to be a dangerous threat up front," said Minshull.

Rangers go into the game four points behind Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic after three consecutive goalless draws.

"Sevilla are aware that Rangers' form hasn't been great recently but most of the attention has been on that away draw they got against Stuttgart," Minshull said.

"Consequently, I don't think Sevilla will be looking too closely at what's happening in the SPL at the moment.

Sevilla will be fairly confident they won't fall apart under the pressure of the Ibrox crowd

BBC Sport blogger Phil Minshull

"They'll be looking more at how Rangers can raise their game when they're playing European fixtures.

"Sevilla are playing well and are in a good run of form and are lying third in La Liga.

"They haven't lost since the opening game of the season and consequently their morale is very high."

Minshull said he expected former Spurs striker Fredi Kanoute to partner Fabiano up front.

"Kanoute's had a few fitness problems and wasn't available for much of the pre-season but seems to be getting into form now.

"He scored in the very impressive 4-0 away win at Atletico Bilbao on Saturday.

"Behind them is also Renato, another Brazilian who is very useful indeed. He's in goalscoring form and got one against the Romanian side a couple of weeks ago in the Champions League.

"You're looking at a team with a lot of good players at the front. On the left wing Sevilla have a fine young player, Diego Capel, a Spanish international who is very fast and is an accurate crosser."

Minshull said Sevilla's weak link was their defence and that it was a deficiency Rangers may exploit.

"At the back is where Rangers fans will perhaps feel optimistic," he said.

"Andreas Palop, the former Spain international is in goal. He's 35 and quite frankly doesn't look quite as sharp as he's done in previous seasons.

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"There are holes in the Sevilla defence and that has been proven on the odd occasion during the course of the Spanish season."

Minshull cooled speculation that Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez may rest some of his top stars for the clash at Ibrox ahead of Sunday's visit of Real Madrid in La Liga.

"If he goes through with it I think it would be good news," said Minshull.

"But I don't think he can afford to. I've got a feeling that they may be trying to wind up Rangers just a little bit and play a few games because I don't think he can afford to go into this clash with anything less than his strongest 11."

Sevilla have happy memories of their last trip to Glasgow in 2007, a Uefa Cup final victory over compatriots Espanyol at Hampden Park.

And, despite Ibrox being famous for its white-hot atmosphere on European nights, Minshull doesn't believe it will faze the Spaniards.

"They're used to playing at the Bernabeu and the Nou Camp. And they've gained a lot of European experience over the last few years.

"They'll be fairly confident they won't fall apart under the pressure of the Ibrox crowd.

"I think it's going to finish 1-1. Both teams have a lot of firepower but look a bit shaky at the back."



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see also
Derby not new to Mowbray - Smith
03 Oct 09 |  Rangers
Rangers 1-4 Sevilla
29 Sep 09 |  Europe
Brazil beat Argentina to qualify
06 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Rough guide to Group G
27 Aug 09 |  Rangers


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