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Stuttgart strive to enforce home strengths

VfB Stuttgart and Rangers FC are familiar foes in the UEFA Champions League, their Matchday 1 meeting recalling memories of when the teams faced each other in two previous campaigns over recent seasons.

Stuttgart strive to enforce home strengths
Stuttgart strive to enforce home strengths ©UEFA.com

The Matchday 1 meeting of VfB Stuttgart and Rangers FC stirs recent memories because they were drawn in the same group on their last UEFA Champions League appearances two years ago and again in 2003/04, the German club's only previous appearances at this stage.

Previous meetings
• Two seasons ago Stuttgart lost their first two home games in the group, both 2-0, against FC Barcelona and Olympique Lyonnais, before a 3-2 win against Rangers. They nevertheless finished bottom of the section with Rangers, who won their first away game against Lyon before losing at Barcelona and Stuttgart, third.

• On 27 November 2007, goals from Charlie Adam and Barry Ferguson were not enough for Rangers, with Cacau and Pável Pardo paving the way for Ciprian Marica's 85th-minute winner for the hosts.

• The teams were:
Stuttgart: Raphael Schäfer, Andreas Beck, Fernando Meira, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Pável Pardo, Matthieu Delpierre, Cacau (Serdar Tasci 88), Roberto Hilbert (Ewerton 83), Ciprian Marica, Ludovic Magnin, Sami Khedira (Antonio da Silva 46).
Rangers: Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, David Weir, Saša Papac, Barry Ferguson, Brahim Hemdani, Kevin Thomson, Jean-Claude Darcheville (Daniel Cousin 82), DaMarcus Beasley (Steven Naismith 49), Carlos Cuéllar, Lee McCulloch (Charlie Adam 26).

• At Ibrox on 19 September 2007 Mario Gómez gave the visitors the lead but Adam replied for Rangers and Hutton then won a penalty which Jean-Claude Darcheville converted to secure a 2-1 victory.

• The teams were:
Rangers: Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, David Weir, Saša Papac, Barry Ferguson, Brahim Hemdani, Kevin Thomson, Charles Adam (DaMarcus Beasley 67), Jean-Claude Darcheville (Nacho Novo 83), Carlos Cuéllar, Steven Whittaker (Amdy Faye 86).
Stuttgart: Raphael Schäfer, Ricardo Osorio, Serdar Tasci, Fernando Meira, Pável Pardo, Arthur Boka, Cacau, Roberto Hilbert, Antonio da Silva (Ewerthon 70), Sami Khedira (Yıldıray Baştürk 78), Mario Gómez.

• The 2003/04 meetings also ended with a home victory apiece, Rangers winning 2-1 at Ibrox and Stuttgart triumphing 1-0 in Germany.

Match background
• Third in the Bundesliga last season, Stuttgart qualified for their third group-stage campaign after defeating FC Timişoara in the play-off round, winning 2-0 in Romania before a goalless home draw.

• Making their eighth appearance in the group stage, Rangers have won their last three Matchday 1 fixtures, all at home. Before that the Scottish champions lost three successive away matches in the first round of group games.

• Including their 1-0 home defeat by Chelsea FC in the 2003/04 first knockout round, Stuttgart have lost three of their last four home games in the UEFA Champions League proper.

Team ties
• Aleksandr Hleb featured in both 2003/04 meetings between the sides, as did Stuttgart sporting director Horst Heldt, setting up Timo Wenzel for the only goal in Germany. Now at Rangers' Glasgow rivals Celtic FC, Andreas Hinkel was also in VfB's starting lineups.

• Pavel Pogrebnyak was suspended when FC Zenit St. Petersburg beat Rangers 2-0 in the 2008 UEFA Cup final but his ten goals en route to Manchester made him the competition's top scorer that season.

• Zdravko Kuzmanović was part of the ACF Fiorentina team beaten by Rangers on penalties in that season's UEFA Cup semi-finals.