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Magath targets victory

Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.03CET
A draw against Rangers FC will see VfB Stuttgart progress, but the Bundesliga leaders want a win.

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Published: Tuesday 25 November 2003, 21.03CET

Magath targets victory

A draw against Rangers FC will see VfB Stuttgart progress, but the Bundesliga leaders want a win.

VfB Stuttgart may only need a draw against Rangers FC in Wednesday's UEFA Champions League Group E game to book their place in the knockout stages, but coach Felix Magath is adamant his players should not rest on their laurels.

'Increased pressure'
"It would be fatal if we went into the game thinking that a point is enough," he explained. "Psychologically, playing 0-0 into the final 15 minutes increases the pressure on the team because any goal conceded is hard to recover from. We cannot play for a draw and we need to go out from the start to get ahead and win."

Late goals
That game plan seemed to be working in Glasgow on Matchday 1 when Kevin Kuranyi's goal on the stroke of half-time put Stuttgart in the driving seat. But Christian Nerlinger and Peter Lovenkrands replied for the home side in the last 15 minutes to snatch all three points.

'Lost everything'
Magath does not look back fondly on the Ibrox encounter. "We've hardly lost any games this season, only the one against Rangers. We led 1-0 in Glasgow and in less than 15 minutes, we threw the game away," he said. "We conceded this catastrophic goal 15 minutes before the end and lost everything.

Bordon out
"We want to show that the defeat was just a small accident," he continued. "We can correct that with three points. [Marcelo] Bordon will miss out through injury, but apart from him, we have a full complement of players. I don't think we're really under any great pressure. We're not interested in winning the group, we're only concerned with qualifying for the next round - and we would like to take the chance against Rangers."

Incredible achievement
Shorn of the services of several players, including Spanish Under-21 international Mikel Arteta, Rangers manager Alex McLeish believes securing victory - at a stadium where Manchester United FC and Panathinaikos FC both lost earlier in the competition - would be an incredible achievement. "Given that we will be missing some key players, if we were to get the victory we crave that would keep our Champions League hopes alive, then it would rank up there as one of the greatest results in our European history without a doubt," he said.

'Players suffering'
If Rangers fail to win, Stuttgart would be sure of their place in the last 16 while the Glasgow side would be forced to focus on the battle for third place in the group - and with it a place in the UEFA Cup third round. But the loss of Arteta, who damaged his ankle during Rangers' domestic victory against Aberdeen FC at the weekend, is not the first blow to hit McLeish's squad during this campaign. "We were a bit ill-equipped going into the Old Trafford game," he said. "There were some players suffering from loss of form and we had injuries.

Rangers stretched
"To be honest, we could have had a better performance against Manchester United at Old Trafford and still lost the game," he continued. "We certainly need a better performance against Stuttgart. We are stretched at the moment but we will go into the game looking for the result to keep us alive."

'Wounded boxer'
The visitors' injury problems are not lost on Magath, who said: "Rangers are like a wounded boxer. They have a few short-term as well as long-term injuries. But they will have a few players with international experience, like Henning Berg and Lovenkrands, who turned the game in Glasgow. It can be a footballing festival - and we're well prepared for it."

Last updated: 26/11/03 0.20CET