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Lyon boss Peter Bosz expecting tough test against Rangers

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Rangers – UEFA Europa League – Round of 16 – Second Leg – BayArena
(Image credit: Sascha Schuermann)

Lyon manager Peter Bosz believes Steven Gerrard’s Rangers side have several positives going into their Europa League tie at Ibrox.

The Dutchman was in charge of German outfit Bayer Leverkusen when they knocked the Light Blues out of the Europa League at the last-16 stage in 2020.

However, the 57-year-old insists the stability Gerrard has brought to Rangers since he took over in 2018 to start building a squad which brought the 55th Scottish Premiership title back to Govan last season will help the home side in the Group A opener.

Asked about the strengths of Rangers, Bosz, who took over at Lyon in the summer, said: “First thing, the coach. Because the coach has been here a long time and that’s definitely a strength.

“Likewise, most of the team has been together for quite a long time. The players know each other and the way they play. That adds some strength to the team.

“Of course, the fact they are playing at home in front of their supporters is going to be a huge help as well.

“Finally, they do have good players. That’s another strength.

Bosz will be without captain Moussa Dembele – the former Celtic striker – who did not travel through injury, although former Liverpool midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri did make the trip after it was reported that not having a double vaccination would keep him in France.

Bosz insists he will  be able to fill the gap left by Dembele, with Algeria striker Islam Slimani or Cameroon international Karl Toko Ekambi possible replacements.

“Dembele was on form and he scored a lot of goals and he is important,” he said.

“But we have more good players and I will pick somebody else for that position tomorrow who can also score goals and is a good player also.

“We have different possibilities. We can change the system, we can change the players. I trust the players I have.”

However, the Lyon coach hinted that Shaqiri might only start on the bench.

He said: “He only played 70 minutes in the last game against Strasbourg and he didn’t train with us at the beginning of the season so we have to be careful with him.

“At Liverpool he had some injuries so we don’t want him to get injured so it is important that we take care. But he is with us.”

Ekambi played for Villarreal in the goalless draw against Rangers at Ibrox in November 2018 and was looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere again.

He said: “I’ve already played here with Villarreal. I know what it feels like. We just have to adapt to it.

“Playing for Lyon, we are used to playing in front of big crowds in a big stadium.

“We are not afraid. Actually, it’s a motivation more than fear that we’re going to feel. If anything it’s going to bring the best out of the team.”