Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team carry a 3-0 lead to a ground dubbed the Marakana, which is renowned for it’s intense atmosphere, but the Red Star Belgrade head coach believes the raucous first leg at Ibrox means Rangers won’t be fazed by the sell-out crowd. The difference will be in the boost for his players.
"This stadium sends Red Star players twice as strong as usual,” Stankovic said. “That adrenaline, that roar coming from the stands, these are the same ones who were in Glasgow. It won't scare the Rangers who are used to playing in this atmosphere, but they will have a twice as strong opponent. This is Marakana.”
While Stankovic acknowledged the task was difficult, he insists overturning the deficit is not impossible. At Inter Milan he won the Italian Super Cup 4-3 after being 3-0 down against Roma. He also pointed to previous European instances where Barcelona overturned Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and when Liverpool did likewise over the Spanish side in 2019, and says he will re-evaluate his game plan for the second leg.
"[Rangers] will relax as much as we allow them,” he said. “If we are aggressive and put pressure on the ball carriers, shorten their space, they cannot be relaxed. They change the formation during the match, they are not big surprises and they cannot surprise us with a setback. We will adapt immediately. It all depends on us, to bring happiness to our side. I say, we believe.
"It is not impossible, we will come out quite strong, we will attack the Rangers, put them under pressure and hope for some of their mistakes.
“It will be a calculated risk, but to turn a situation 50-50 in our favour, if you are lucky enough to score from the first or second chance, to light the stadium, it can change a lot."
Stankovic identified Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent as Rangers main threats following their first leg performance at Ibrox and admitted his side will have to pay extra attention to the dangerous duo.
“I agree that [Morelos] is physically quite strong and that he is physically the best player of Rangers, in the beginning he caused a lot of problems,” he said.
"I think that [Aleksandar] Dragović managed to limit him as much as possible and that he will succeed even more tomorrow.
"That mistake happened when he scored, but I hope we will stop him completely now. It is certainly one of the biggest threats to our goal.
“[Ryan Kent] was a danger against Dortmund as well, he made a difference, there was a penalty over him and against Dortmund, we will pay more attention, we saw where the mistakes were. We'll try to fix that.”
Red Star have a full strength squad to choose from for the match, while van Bronckhorst is without midfielders Ianis Hagi and Steven Davis.