Rangers’ 1-0 win over NK Osijek in Croatia last week was shrouded in animosity.
Assistant manager Gary McAllister was involved in an angry exchange with the opposition coach Zoran Zekic, while midfielder Robert Mudrazija had strong words for Rangers boss Steven Gerrard.
The 21-year-old labelled Gerrard a “tiny man” in ahead of the Europa League second qualifying round second-leg at Ibrox. He also said that Osijek were “better, stronger, more skilful and better organised” in the match at the City Garden Stadium.
Rangers claimed the victory with an Alfredo Morelos header but had Allan McGregor to thanks with the Scotland goalkeeper pulling off a number of saves.
Gerrard steered clear of entering a war of words, opting for a more measured approach to the game.
“Reading between the lines I think the opposition are very confident,” he said. “I don’t think they have had many positive words to say about us. But we can’t control what they say and how they are feeling about the position they are in. My focus is on how the squad feels going into tomorrow.
“Does their comments give us extra motivation? Not really. My job is to prepare my team and my players.
“We will always respectful to opponents both individually and collectively here at Rangers and we will go do what we’re capable of doing. We can’t control what comes out of opposition camps.”
The Liverpool legend has called on his players to rise to the occasion at a packed out Ibrox.
“We’re confident, we can’t wait for the game,” Gerrard enthused. “We’re looking forward to a special atmosphere.
“The stage is set for us to go play how we are capable of playing. I made it very clear to the players at the weekend what Ibrox wants to see from us in possession and out of possession. The players will know the game plan and now they need to go and deliver.
“They need to forget what happened in the first leg - this game will be totally different. They need to forget about the scoreline and thinking they have an advantage, because they need to go toe-to-toe with this opposition. If we do and play to our level, I’m very confident we’ll get the right result.”