DaMarcus Beasley has backed Rangers to be the surprise package of the Champions League this year – starting on Wednesday night against Stuttgart.
The reward for coming through qualifiers against FK Zeta and Red Star Belgrade was being drawn in arguably the toughest group in the tournament.
As well as German champions Stuttgart, six-times French title-winners Lyon and La Liga runners-up Barcelona lie in wait for Walter Smith’s men in the coming weeks.
Rangers may be tipped to finish bottom of the so-called ‘group of death’ but Beasley was in defiant mood ahead of their opener at Ibrox.
He said: “I think we can surprise a lot of people in this campaign – and that starts tomorrow. Teams will underestimate us and that can only be good for us.
“A lot of teams don’t know much about Rangers or Scottish football. You can only get so much from watching tapes of teams.
“I think we will surprise a lot of people at Ibrox tomorrow and at their stadium too.”
He added: “We got the ‘group of death’ and it’s tough, there are two champions in there and Barcelona.
“It’s a tough group but we are confident going into every game, even against Barcelona.
“We respect them but we’re not scared of them. With the buzz that surrounds the Champions League, I think we can get something from our home matches.”
Beasley reached the last four of the Champions League with PSV Eindhoven in 2005 and sees no reason why Rangers cannot emulate that achievement.
He said: “That PSV side was very good and we had a lot of experience with the likes of Phillip Cocu, Mark van Bommel and Johann Vogel. There were also younger guys like myself.
“We had a very good team, a good group of guys, and I can’t take anything away from that team.
“But this Rangers team is the same; we have experience and we have young players who are itching to get Champions League games under their belts.”
He added: “It’s every footballer’s dream to play in the Champions League and, for a lot of our players, it will be the first time for them. We are all excited about it and we’re ready to go.
“Despite what happened on Saturday, we are very confident going into this game that we can get three points and start the campaign well.”
What happened on Saturday was Rangers’ first defeat of the season, a 4-2 reverse against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Skipper Barry Ferguson was rested for the opening 45 minutes before playing the second half in a vain attempt to rescue the match.
The skipper now faces a late fitness test ahead of the match against Stuttgart, after suffering a knee injury in training yesterday, and Beasley admits the events in Edinburgh demonstrated how important Ferguson is to the team.
He said: “He’s our captain, he’s our leader and he is the guy who makes us go. We saw it on Saturday, he had a little bit of a spark coming into the game.
“He is a tough guy to lose – he is irreplaceable in my eyes. At the same time, we are going to have to play without him in some games, he isn’t going to play every single game this year for Rangers.
“We have to learn to play without him and win without him but he would be a massive loss to the team and hopefully he will be all right for tomorrow.”
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