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Rangers FC captain Barry Ferguson will mark a personal milestone when he leads his side out against Werder Bremen in the first leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 16 tie at Ibrox.
The 30-year-old midfielder will set a new Scottish record for European appearances when he walks out for his 77th match in UEFA club competition, eclipsing the achievement of former Dundee United FC defender David Narey. "It will be a proud night for me and my family," said Ferguson, whose side reached the last 16 with a 1-1 draw at Panathinaikos FC to win their Round of 32 tie on away goals. "To play 77 games for Rangers is a great achievement and hopefully I can play many more. In the last round we couldn't get the breakthrough in our first leg against Panathinaikos at Ibrox but we showed how good we are away from home. From that point of view a goalless draw at home is not the end of the world as we have shown what we can do on our travels."
The Scottish Premier League leaders have already tasted success against German opposition this season, beating title holders VfB Stuttgart 2-1 in their opening UEFA Champions League group match last September. "The games against Stuttgart will give us a gauge from which to operate," said manager Walter Smith, who will have to make do without the man who scored the winner in that game as injured French striker Jean-Claude Darcheville is serving the second of a three-game ban. "It gives us an indication of the level we'll have to play at if we hope to get through. Bremen must be down as one of the favourites for the UEFA Cup. The further you go, the higher the level you expect to encounter."
Things are looking bright for Bremen, meanwhile, with forwards Ivan Klasnić and Hugo Almeida in contention after recovering from bouts of flu, although the former is also suffering from a strained muscle in his left thigh. "I have not yet put my full weight on it but we still have some time left," he explained. Captain Frank Baumann is again available, and whether Klasnić plays or not Bremen general manager Klaus Allofs is aiming for success, saying: "We want to achieve more than we did in last year's UEFA Cup." Considering that in 2007 the club reached the semi-finals, that is no small target.
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