Don't use this as an excuse, Rangers hero urges current team

There is a general school of thought that Rangers’ exertions across 120 minutes on Thursday night can only leave them with a physical obstacle as well as Celtic to overcome in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

It feels as if the enormous effort expended at an emotion-drenched Ibrox to prevail in extra-time against Braga and set up a Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig has one by-product. It offers mitigating circumstances should Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men come up short against their rivals in a competition now offering their most realistic opportunity for silverware from an undulating campaign. Former Rangers striker Nacho Novo refuses to align with that perspective whatsoever, though. Even as a player who knows how a European run can catch up with a team with the run to the 2008 UEFA Cup final in which the Spaniard played an integral role undoubtedly a significant factor in Walter Smith’s men being edged out for the title that season.

“The win over Braga will give them a boost ahead of the Celtic game,” he said. “Rangers played really well on Thursday and to get the club into a European semi-final is a great achievement. They probably should have scored more goals but they did the business and I am so happy for everyone connected with the club. The atmosphere was incredible and the fans really helped the team get the job done. Everyone should be so proud of the achievement of getting into the last four in Europe. Getting into a major semi-final will give everyone a boost. The players and staff will be buzzing.

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“They may have needed extra time on Thursday but they can’t use the excuse of being tired. At Rangers you want to play in these major games and I don’t think it will impact the Celtic game. On Old Firm day, no matter how many games you have played before it, adrenaline gets you through the derby. The Celtic game takes care of itself and the players won’t be thinking about how tough Thursday night was. They will have got a massive confidence boost from the Braga game and will be looking forward to a massive few weeks ahead. They can’t have any excuses as they are so fit and everyone wants to play on Old Firm day.”

Former Rangers striker Nacho Novo promoting a Scottish Cup semi-final for his old club against Celtic that he maintains should seem Giovanni van Bronckhorst's men boosted not brought to their knees physically by their endeavours in reaching the Europa League semi-final on Thursday. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Nacho Novo was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Celtic v Rangers on Sunday from 1pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £9.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.”

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