Embrace the pressure: Giovanni van Bronckhorst exudes calm before Rangers' shot at Europa League glory

For a man with the weight of 50-years history on his shoulders, Giovanni van Bronckhorst cut a relaxed figure as he previewed the Europa League Final against Eintracht Frankfurt. Far from a burden of pressure, the chance to win a European trophy with Rangers for the first time in half-a-century was a notion he was quietly embracing.

A sense of calm has exuded from the Dutchman since he took charge at Ibrox. A level-headed pragmatism has seen key tactical tweaks change games, change outcomes and help Rangers through to next week’s final.

It has bred confidence, results and anticipation, and the enjoyment generated from looking ahead to the opportunity in Seville, Van Bronckhorst hopes is reflected in his team.

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"We have to play to our strengths,” van Bronckhorst stated. “It’s a final. You always have to find the right balance in your approach to opponents. I want my team to enjoy this game and play to their strengths and that’s what we’re going to do.”

As a player, and one at Rangers, he was no stranger to finals, but on the European stage Scottish teams are. Rangers have not won a continental cup since Barcelona in 1972.

It’s an opportunity not lost on Van Bronckhorst which is why he hopes his team do enjoy the occasion – and make history for both Scottish football and Rangers history.

“It means a lot. It’s not often you play finals, it’s not often you play finals in Europe as a Scottish team. It is very rare it happens so we are really honoured and proud we are in this final in Seville and can enjoy this occasion with many fans all around the world.

“There will be many fans in the stadium, there will be even more fans in the city. We are representing this beautiful club, and representing Scotland so we have to make sure we give a good impression and that’s what we want to do.”

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

He added: “I’ve had experiences as a player winning major trophies, it’s always a good feeling. As a manager it’s the same.

“There aren’t many managers in the history of this club to have played in a European final, there is only one who has won it. It would be fantastic to win a second prize for this club."

The pressure to do so is there, but used in the right way, Rangers have already proven capable. They channelled that energy against RB Leipzig, and – as well as van Bronckhorst’s calmness and tactical awareness – they will take another shot at European glory, 50 years on from their last.

“It is a final but it is good to feel it is a special game,” he added. “If you are feeling pressure you know you are doing really well and we have to embrace the pressure into something positive.

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst during Rangers training at the Rangers Training Centre, on May 12, 2022, in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

“I think our performances in Europe will give us some confidence, in the end we have to concentrate on the game – that doesn’t change in Seville. It’s still 11 v 11 with a referee, one ball, two goals, and those things will not change.

"We will focus on that, focus on our gameplan and how we want to play and prepare well not only tactically but also mentally for the game. I think we cope.”

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