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Manuel Fernandes speaking ahead of Wednesday.


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FORMER Rangers star Mikel Arteta has warned Valencia star Manuel Fernandes he needs to match fire with fire at Ibrox on Wednesday.

Fernandes revealed he's taken the advice of his ex-Everton midfield partner on board because he is desperate not to return home empty handed.

The Portuguese international concedes the La Liga stars are technically superior to Walter Smith's Scots battlers.

Valencia gave watching Ibrox scout Ian Durrant a glimpse of their undoubted class on Saturday night despite losing out 2-1 to Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Their quick-passing was mesmerising and a joy to behold, yet Fernandes insists that simply won't be enough if they want to end Rangers' unbeaten Champions League record this season.

The classy midfielder is adamant his teammates need to show the same desire and fight as their Scottish hosts as the battle for supremacy in Group C hots up.

Fernandes said: "I used to speak a lot with Mikel Arteta about Rangers when we were together at Everton.

"He always spoke well of them because he loved the club and the whole environment there. Given what he has told me then I'm presuming we are going to be in for a tough game on Wednesday.

"Rangers are a team who play for each other and give everything. The defence help them out a lot so it'll be up to us to try to break them down. We're technically superior to Rangers but it is not enough.

"I know a lot of teams who don't always win despite being technically better. Barca are the best team in the world but they've dropped five points at home this season.

"I'm just hoping Rangers' style suits us but I do know if we want to take something then we need to copy them."

After loan spells with Portsmouth and Everton in the Premiership, Fernandes is now flourishing in La Liga with Valencia.

A key cog in their midfield along with David Albelda - the sole survivor of the Los Che side who came to Ibrox on Champions League duty 11 years ago - the 24-year outshone Xavi and Iniesta on Saturday night before tiring late in the game due to a lack of recent match practice.

Yet, whether he is facing the Spanish champions or the SPL holders, Fernandes treats them with equal respect.

Indeed, deep in the bowels of the Nou Camp after losing to Barca he revealed how he has been religiously studying videos of Rangers in a bid to gain an edge.

Fernandes said: "I know this will be a difficult game for us because Rangers are really starring at home just now.

"They play a type of football which is tough to cope with. They have strong players, are good in the air and are very direct. We need to make sure we are ready for that."

Parking the bus at the back and packing the midfield has proved a successful option for Rangers on the road in Europe under Walter Smith.

They carried out the tactics perfectly at Old Trafford to hold Man United to a scoreless draw but Fernandes doesn't expect the Scots to be so defensive at Ibrox.

He said: "This will be a different game from Old Trafford. Every team who goes to Manchester doesn't go there with an offensive plan.

"You need to be strong at the back and earn the respect of Man United. Rangers did that but at home it's different. They need to play the game to win in front of their own supporters."

It's those fans Valencia will be aiming to silence on Wednesday. They almost managed to keep 90,000 Catalans quiet at the weekend after taking a 1-0 half-time lead in the Nou Camp before Barca hit back.

Fernandes was disappointed by the final result but admits the performance was the perfect warm-up prior to their trip to Ibrox.

He said: "I don't think the atmosphere will be a problem for us in Glasgow. It won't bother us because all we will be concerned about is what happens on the pitch.

"We'll come to Scotland with confidence. I just hope we can keep this run going."

I just wanted to post this because of the Arteta link. Decent wee article though.

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