Exclusive: Rangers hero spots Ibrox path to toppling Benfica as one Light Blues transfer gets the thumbs up

Rangers face Benfica in the Europa League this week.Rangers face Benfica in the Europa League this week.
Rangers face Benfica in the Europa League this week.
Rangers face Benfica in the Europa League this week and one former defender wants to see them progress.

Filip Helander is calling on the Ibrox atmosphere to help roar Rangers into a Europa League quarter-final.

Philippe Clement's side face off against Benfica this week in leg one of their last 16 tie. The first 90 minutes take place in Portugal before the return battle in Govan a week later, with the defender well aware of the boost home fans give players on the park.

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He joined Rangers in 2019 and left last summer, and while he didn't play much due to injury, the 30-year-old watched on as his teammates used home form as a platform to make the 2022 final of this competition. Helander featured the last time the two sides met in Portugal on Europa League duty - with the 2020 tie ending in a crazy 3-3 scoreline - and believes a good result away can be aided with an Ibrox boost.

The Odense defender told Glasgow World: "I remember that game, I made a mistake in that game as well! Benfica is a big club, good team. Since the new coach arrived, Rangers have had a lot of success and hopefully they have a good chance. If they can get a good result away, we have seen it so many times.

"At Ibrox, Rangers can be really good in those games. I hope and I think they have a good chance go through. Rangers have been very good in the European ties. It's also a feeling of there is always a big pressure when you are playing the league games and expected to win, expected to win nice and comfortable as well.

"You know you need to fight for everything in these European ties. It's something you look forward to as a player, these big European night games."

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One current Rangers star Helander knows all about is Mohamed Diomande. Clement brought the versatile midfielder in from FC Nordsjælland of Denmark, an opponent the Swede has faced with Diomande involved. He reckons Rangers are onto a winner with one of their January recruits.

He added: "I played against his team once or twice, and I don't think he played one of the games. He's a young player, and he looks very good. I think Rangers is a good step for a young player as the Scottish league maybe doesn't get a lot of attention.

"But when you go to Rangers, you are at a big club, get to play in Europe and you learn how to deal with the pressure that is all there. He came from a good club here in Denmark and that has a special style of playing football. He's a good player."

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