Rangers' Steven Gerrard expects tougher Spartak Moscow test

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard shares a joke with assistant Gary McAllister during training
Steven Gerrard and assistant Gary McAllister were in high spirits during training
Europa League Group G: Rangers v Spartak Moscow
Venue: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 25 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Updates on Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Steven Gerrard is expecting Spartak Moscow to provide his Rangers team with an even tougher test after dispensing with their coach before Thursday's Europa League game at Ibrox.

Fitness coach Raul Riancho will be in charge after Massimo Carrera was sacked after Sunday's defeat by Arsenal Tula.

Spartak are seventh in the Russian Premier League, seven points behind leaders Zenit St Petersburg.

"We know there will be a reaction," said the Rangers manager.

"Spartak have been inconsistent this season," Gerrard said. "It's very difficult to predict what will happen when a manager leaves.

"It's slightly different as the manager tomorrow was in the set-up beforehand. We have to be ready and show our quality."

Rangers go into the game on the back of a convincing 4-1 win away to Hamilton Academical on Sunday that lifted Gerrard's side to fifth in the Scottish Premiership.

They also lead Group G following an opening draw away to Villarreal with a home win over Rapid Vienna.

"We know we are facing a really strong team, but we are going into the game with confidence and belief," Gerrard said.

"I think Spartak come with more experience than Rapid - they play in hostile arenas and they have individuals who are very capable of hurting us.

"If we emulate the performance and atmosphere of the Rapid match, we will be very difficult to beat."

Gerrard picked out Fernando, the 26-year-old Brazilian midfielder who signed from Sampdoria in 2016, as one of Spartak's most potent weapons.

"It is difficult to analyse the Spartak XI as they chop and change so often, but they do have a core group of players," he said.

"We know in Fernando they are always a danger from set-pieces."

'Spartak won't be a pushover' - Analysis

Former Rangers midfielder Alex Rae on Radio Scotland:

Spartak's league position is rather false. They are sitting in seventh place but they are only one point off second. They are a wealthy club and have spent over £10m on some players so I don't think they will be a pushover.

When they arrived in Glasgow yesterday they were very stern and looked as if they were here to do the business. With the talent Spartak have got, I think it will be very even.

But with Rangers at home, in front of a full house, you'd expect them to get three points and be in a really strong position in the group. Steven Gerrard will be looking to get a positive result going into the League Cup semi-final.

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