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WALTER Smith today distanced himself from any claims Rangers have been handed an easy draw in the group stages of the Champions League this season.

The Scottish champions managed to avoid European football's biggest names in Monaco last night when they were put in the same group as Sevilla, VfB Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni.

But Smith still believes the odds of qualifying for the knockout stages, for only the second time in the club's history, will be stacked heavily against his side.

He said: "All in all, while we have missed out on the Manchester Uniteds, Barcelonas and others we still find ourselves in an extremely difficult group.

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"We can't look upon the section as being in any way easier than it could have been.

"Any team which gets into Pot One is going to be one hell of a level of team.

"Sevilla may not have the overall glamour of Real Madrid or Barcelona, but they've had a steadiness and a level of success in Spain which makes them, I think, one of the best teams in the whole of Europe.

"You can't pick and choose which teams you are going to get in any draw.

"We were delighted to get ourselves into the second pot and we look forward to all the games we're now going to be faced with.

"It's not the glamorous group some people may have hoped for.

"But each of the teams we've got will be of a high standard, I don't think there can be any doubt about that.

"I don't think it makes it any easier a task because of the fact we've missed out on what everyone else perceives as the glamour teams. They are all good teams.

"The likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid may be spending hundreds of millions on players, but there are other really good teams in the Champions League.

"That's why I think that, regardless of who we got, we were always going to have our work cut out."

Rangers kick off their campaign against Stuttgart in Germany on Wednesday, September 16, at a venue manager Smith knows well.

The Gers faced the Bundesliga outfit in the group stage two seasons ago, winning at home and losing away, before finishing third and dropping into the Uefa Cup.

After that, Sevilla come to Ibrox a fortnight later in another key match as the challenges come thick and fast for the SPL champions.

Smith added: "We know the strength of German football and they've been really steady over the last few seasons.

"Sevilla have been among the very best teams in Spain for the last number of years and shown genuine consistency in their own domestic league championship.

"Barcelona were simply away in front of everybody else last season and it was extremely difficult for any of the other teams in La Liga to overcome them.

"Sevilla if anything were the steadiest considering Real Madrid haven't had the greatest success over the most recent period of time in the Champions League. Sevilla, for me, are an excellent side."

Smith's knowledge of Unirea Urziceni isn't as extensive, but he'll do his homework in the weeks ahead with No.2 Ally McCoist likely to be sent on a spying mission. He added: "The final team in the group makes it an interesting mixture given the Romanian side are one maybe the rest in the group won't know a very great deal about.

"We'll be required to do our homework before we play them to assess their strengths and weaknesses. But teams from Romania have always been of a high standard over the years."

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/displa..._to_qualify.php

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By ROBERT GRIEVE

Published: Today

IT'S not G for glamourous.

But Walter Smith insists it will definitely take hard graft and grit if Rangers are to get out of their Champions League group.

The Gers boss was satisfied with the way yesterday's tea-time draw unfolded for the Ibrox club.

There's little doubt it could have been much worse as the teams emerged from the perspex balls as the drama unfolded from Monte Carlo.

Big-hitters like Barcelona, Manchester United and AC Milan were all avoided with Sevilla - La Liga's third-placed side from last season - out first.

Stuttgart were next from pot three as the likes of Dinamo Kiev, Atletico Madrid and Fiorentina went elsewhere.

Romanian cracks Unirea Urziceni were the final unknown quantity to make up Group G, which many will believe Rangers can manoeuvre a passage through and get to the last 16.

Smith, however, is not so cock-sure.

Stacked

He has been around the game long enough to know the task facing Rangers is still MASSIVE.

And in a call for realism, Smith has shot down any suggestion Rangers have got lucky and insisted the odds are still heavily stacked against the SPL champions.

He said: "All-in-all, while we have missed out on the Manchester Uniteds, Barcelonas and others we still find ourselves in an extremely difficult group.

"We can't look upon the section as being in any way easier than it could have been.

"Any team which gets into Pot One is going to be one hell of a level of team.

"Sevilla may not have the overall glamour of Real Madrid or Barcelona but they've had a steadiness and a level of success in Spain which makes them, I think, one of the best teams in the whole of Europe.

"You can't pick and chose which teams you are going to get in any draw.

"We were delighted to get ourselves into the second pot and we look forward to all the games we're now going to be faced with.

"It's not the glamourous group some people might have hoped for.

"But each of the teams we've got will be of a high standard, I don't think there can be any doubt about that.

"Our aim in the Champions League hasn't changed given that we now know what we're up against.

"It's no different than it would have been had we been drawn against Manchester United or Barcelona.

"Our target is to get as many points on the table as we possibly can, that's all we're going in to do.

"We managed to get seven points a couple of years ago and we'll be going in with the same approach.

"I don't think it makes it any easier a task because of the fact we've missed out on what everyone else perceives as the glamour teams. They are all good teams.

"The likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid may be spending hundreds of millions on players but there are other really good teams in the Champions League.

"That's why I think that regardless of who we got we were always going to have our work cut out."

Rangers kick off their campaign against Stuttgart in Germany on Wednesday September 16.

It's a venue the Rangers manager knows well.

Gers faced the Bundesliga outfit in the Champions League group stages two seasons ago before finishing third and dropping into the UEFA Cup. After that Sevilla come to Ibrox a fortnight later in another key match as the challenges come thick and fast for the SPL champions.

Smith added: "We played Stuttgart and won 2-1 at Ibrox then lost 3-2 to them in the away leg.

"We know the strength of German football and they've been really steady over the last few seasons.

"Sevilla have been among the very best teams in Spain for the last number of years and shown genuine consistency in their own domestic league championship.

"Barcelona were simply away in front of everybody else last season and it was extremely difficult for any of the other teams in La Liga to overcome them.

"Sevilla if anything were the steadiest considering Real Madrid haven't had the greatest success over the most recent period of time in the Champions League.

"Sevilla, for me, are an excellent side."

Spying

Smith's knowledge of Unirea Urziceni isn't as extensive but he'll do his homework in the weeks ahead with No2 Ally McCoist likely to be sent on a spying mission.

He added: "The final team in the group makes it an interesting mixture given the Romanian side are one maybe the rest in the group won't know a very great deal about.

"We'll be required to do our homework before we play them to assess their strengths and weaknesses.

"But teams from Romania have always been of a high standard over the years.

"From that part of the world now, in what used to be the communist countries, they are actually buying players of a good standard whereas before they didn't."

http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/ho...ot-it-easy.html

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