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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Nov 7, 2007

Rijkaard calls for tough edge for Rangers return

Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard has warned his side that graft and grit may be the key to success in tonight's Champions League clash with Rangers.

Barca boast some of the world's greatest attacking talents in the likes of Ronaldinho, Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, and Rijkaard is confident that if his all-stars are on form they will pick up all three points against Walter Smith's men.

However, Barca have already drawn a blank against Rangers in this season's Champions League with a 0-0 stalemate at Ibrox last month, and the Dutch coach is keen to point out they may not have it any easier in the return meeting at the Nou Camp.

'The team always has the right mentality but you can never forget that there are two teams on the field,' Rijkaard said.

'You may have all the right motivation and concentration, but that doesn't always mean you will win. Sometimes things don't work out as you would like and you have to suffer and keep working.

'The opposition deserve respect because they have shown themselves to be a decent side. It might seem that it will be easy to win but we will have to fight hard. Rangers don't only play it tight at the back, they don't just defend well, they are also good in attack.

'(But) if we play well and do things like they should be done, we'll win.' Barca, who are level on seven points with Rangers at the top of Group E, warmed up for the fixture with a 3-0 league victory over Real Betis at the weekend.

That continued Barca's 100% home record this season with six wins out of six in La Liga - they also beat Lyon 3-0 at the Nou Camp in Europe - and lifted them to within one point of leaders Real Madrid.

Barca captain Carles Puyol believes his side's performance against Betis is the standard they need to match in the future.

'We have to continue along the line of the last game, moving the ball quickly and pressing our opponents,' he said.

'It is not always easy to create clear opportunities. In front of us we have a good opponent that plays it very tight. I hope that this time we take advantage of the opportunities we create, we have some top-quality forwards.

'It is a very important game. If we obtain the three points we will take a very big step forward. As well as that, it is necessary to be first in the group because that means that in the next round we get to play the return leg at home.'

Ronaldinho scored twice in the win over Betis and although the Brazilian playmaker has come in for criticism this season for events on and off the pitch, Puyol insists he is still vital to the team.

'I have always said he is an important player for Barca. He works hard in training and in matches, and everything will work out for him because he is the best player in the world,' Puyol said.

'Constructive criticism is good, but the kind that causes hurt is not, and he's had to take that kind. Footballers should be judged on what they achieve on the pitch.

'If the team plays badly it is not only Ronaldinho's fault, it is the fault of everybody.'

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