Steven Gerrard warns his Rangers squad they are facing their biggest challenge yet

Steven Gerrard admits Rangers may require ‘the luck of the draw’ if they are to improve on last season’s run to the last 16 of the Europa League.

Steven Gerrard (right), pictured celebrating victory over Galatasaray at Ibrox last season, has enjoyed some of his most memorable nights as Rangers manager on the European stage. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

But the Ibrox boss has urged his players to show they have both the belief and courage to make a major impact on the tournament as they get ready to begin their fourth consecutive group stage campaign at home to Lyon on Thursday night.

After losing out in the Champions League qualifiers last month, tangible further progress for Gerrard’s squad in Europe will now entail trying to go further than they have previously in the Europa League.

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“We have proved in the last three years we can compete at that level,” he said. “We have got better and better and in the last two years we have improved our best performance by getting to the (last 32 and then) last 16.

“The challenge and part of the remit at the start of the season was ‘can we keep improving ourselves and try to go further than that?’

“One thing for sure is that we won’t make it easy for anyone, whoever we play against. It’s about taking it in stages. So first and foremost, can we get out of this group?

“We are obviously in Pot Two and we are all aware Lyon were in Pot One. Naturally people will make them the big favourites if you like.

“But we have more than enough in our squad, if we stay healthy, to put up a right good fight and compete to get out of this group.

“That’s the first stage. After that you need a bit of luck in the draw as you go along. But what a fantastic challenge and what a time to be part of this team. The likes of Lyon coming to town is what we all want to be part of.”

It will be Gerrard’s 50th European match as Rangers manager since his appointment in the summer of 2018 and he is bracing himself for potentially his toughest assignment yet against the Ligue 1 side.

“They are arguably the best (we’ll have faced in those 50 games),” he added. “A full-strength Lyon are very much a Champions League team with Champions League calibre players.

“They have a manager (Peter Bosz) who got this job on the back of doing ever so well as Bayer Leverkusen manager. He has been here before and knows what we are about.

“So this is a really big test, there is no doubt about it. We have to be at our best and that goes for both sides of the game.

“We have to have a high level of focus and concentration tomorrow because, if you don’t, you are going to be punished against these teams and punished very quickly.

“But we have also got to have our own confidence and our own belief that we can play at this level, that we can compete at the right times during the game.

“We have to show bravery that we can go and hurt the opposition as well. So we are excited and looking forward to it. But we know the size of the challenge and it’s arguably the biggest we’ve had as a group.”

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