Whatever else happens tonight, I implore everyone at some point to just take the moment in. We’ve came an incredible way in a relatively short amount of time and there was a period where we didn’t know if we would have our team to support, never mind playing at this level.
However, we are here and Rangers are not a club to stand around and just be happy to be part of the occasion and make up the numbers. We are in a competitive, European knockout fixture. A fixture that we are very much capable of winning but it is a still a massive challenge ahead of us.
Braga had a rough first half of the domestic season in Portugal they now find themselves out of the title race, languishing in third 17 points off the top spot.
Despite this, they have been flying in Europe this season. They won their group with relative ease, going undefeated and putting Premier League opponents in Wolves to the sword.
This was not enough for Ricardo Sa Pinto to keep his job, after only being appointed in July 2019. Braga found themselves far adrift in 8th place and Ruben Amorim was promoted from within the club to the top job in December.
Everything seemed to be going Rangers way, Pinto joined the list of European managers sacked before coming to Ibrox. We were flying and Braga certainly were not.
If there are two teams that can contrast their change in fortunes from 2019 into 2020 better than Rangers and Braga then I can’t think of them. Under Amorim, Braga have played nine domestic games, winning eight and drawing one.
Just to highlight the complete mirroring fortunes, Braga beat Porto in the final of the Portuguese League Cup, because of course they did!
There is no getting away from it, out of the two they are clearly the form team. However, I am a not for a second considering throwing up the white flag or think that Braga will simply brush us aside.
We are where we are in this competition on merit. We have already vanquished Portuguese opposition and have a spectacular record in Europe at Ibrox under Gerrard.
I don’t think we can ignore the impact the pitch might have too. I’m really not sure what impact that may be as it’s ragged condition is probably a negative determinant to both sides. But it is another variable going into this match.
We’re all disappointed with the way the domestic season appears to be shaping out. I myself admitted after the Kilmarnock game that I was finding it hard to get motivated for this tie.
Today? I’m buzzing for it and looking forward to getting carried away with the atmosphere of the crowd tonight.
On the face of it, this is just another tournament and like any competition we’re in I want us to go as far we can and win every game. I’m not saying we’re going to win the whole thing!