Rangers midfielder details Ibrox element Champions League opponents 'haven't taken on board'

John Lundstram is ready to use the raucous Ibrox atmosphere to Rangers’ advantage – but says the Champions League qualifying result with Union Saint-Gilloise won’t define the club’s entire 2022-23 campaign, as they have much more to achieve.

The midfielder sparked bedlam in one of many memorable midweek nights last season with the late winner in the Europa League semi-final against RB Leipzig, and another charged arena awaits the Belgians on Tuesday, following last week’s 2-0 defeat in Leuven.

Rangers have never overturned a two-goal deficit from a first-leg but, with the home crowd’s backing, Lundstram is hoping to play his part in another epic evening and go beyond the remarkable Europa League run that set last term’s high water mark.

However, one eye still remains on domestic duty and ensuring they have a claim on an automatic group-stage place next season.

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“European wise, our aim is massive and to get into the Champions League,” Lundstram stressed. “That is what we wanted for a couple of seasons and, going forward, this whole league campaign is gearing towards winning the league and qualifying automatically.

"It is a big moment, we all want to be playing Champions League – the whole fanbase, the club, wants that. What football player doesn’t?

"But in terms of season-defining, it is completely different to the league campaign. Of course we want to win the league, that is what Rangers Football Club always aspires to do, but we want to play in the Champions League as well.”

Rangers fans crave the competition’s theme, Zadok the Priest, being played at Ibrox again too – if it can be heard over the hyped-up din that greets special European nights on Edmiston Drive.

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Rangers' John Lundstram celebrates making it 3-1 during the UEFA Europa League semi-final. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

That atmosphere awaits Union Saint-Gilloise and Lundstram says the Ibrox noise adds an extra element to Rangers’ home tie hopes.

"It is a phenomenal place to play football so we try to use that to our advantage. If the opposition can cope with it, great. If not, it is a benefit for us.

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“After big nights in Europe we talk about it, not just us but the whole UK talks about the atmosphere at Ibrox and the whole of Europe. We certainly need it again and we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to overcome the 2-0 deficit. We have put ourselves in that position but there is no reason why we can’t with that fanbase behind us.”

Rangers' European atmosphere is an Ibrox element USG 'haven't taken on board' says John Lundstram. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Amongst the heat and hype, players will be tasked with holding their emotions – Lundstram among them after a red card against Alashkert in last season’s Europa League qualifier.

He will face the same referee, Tasos Sidiropoulos again at Ibrox and the midfielder added: “[Maintaining discipline] is massive. It can be quite emotional and hard not to get caught up in it because we are all fans at the end of the day. But we are players as well. I think we actually control it quite well – not myself in that game obviously! After that our discipline has been good to be fair. I am sure it is something that we will control.”

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The guaranteed Rangers safety net in play for Champions League qualifier
Union's head coach Karel Geraerts brings his side to Ibrox on Tuesday night. (Photo by LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)
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