Benfica is huge for Rangers, but 56 is bigger

Benfica is huge for Rangers, but 56 is bigger
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Rangers manager Philippe Clement is seen during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Rangers FC and Heart of Midlothian at Ibrox Stadium on February 24, 2024 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Attention now turns 100% to Benfica on Thursday for Rangers, with a few caveats.

We are well aware of how much we want our team to win in Portugal, and how much of a meltdown there would be to lose or lose badly, but equally, we’re seeing a lot of Rangers fans offer their tuppence worth by arguing that while they will be screaming for the win this midweek, it isn’t the priority this season and that’s 56.

That of course we want to win every match we play, naturally, that’s what it is to be a Ranger or a Rangers fan.

But if you offered supporters 56 or a decent run in Europe very few would pick UEFA’s second-tier cup.

Ibrox Noise’s Derek expressed some in-depth tactical observations on our Portuguese rivals which we hope you enjoyed as much as made you laugh, but as much as focus on that match is all on board right now, there is a huge glance to Hibs as well at the weekend, and to the run-in in the league.

We will say it now, and we will be blunt with it:

56 is 100% the priority this season. Anything else is a lovely bonus, and we’re not ashamed to admit that the league is where it’s at, for us.

We will always enjoy Europe, and we will always love a good run in it, but this season, not at the expense of the league.

Our rivals for the title don’t have Europe to contend with, so they’re going to be fresher most weeks as long as we remain in the tournament, and that is an advantage for them.

That said, as we analysed before, manager Philippe Clement’s record with his three main club charges before Rangers (Brugge, Genk and Monaco) in terms of weekend results after Euro midweek fixtures is actually pretty good.

And he’s not lost a single Rangers Euro match yet so that’s also promising. In short, his Euro hangover seems only modest.

But end of the day, we will not cry ourselves to sleep if our Euro adventure doesn’t take us to the Europa League final (we will if it does and we lose again) because it really is about prioritising the league.

One thing is for sure, with certain options not in the UEL squad, Leon Balogun especially, he among others will be fresher for domestic football.

But… as with everything else, we’ll just watch and wait and see how it all goes.

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