In a major showing of respect, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus is resting his entire first-team ahead of their Europa League fixture against Rangers.

The Portuguese giants face the Gers at Ibrox on Thursday night and are set to be without a number of key players.

Benfica  v Rangers: Group D - UEFA Europa League

Darwin Nuñez scored against Rangers in Lisbon but will miss the rematch. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Darwin Nuñez and Julian Weigl both recently tested positive for Covid-19, while Jean-Clair Todibo, Nuno Tavares, Andre Almeida and Pedrinho are all out injured.

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With so many stars already sidelined, Jesus is taking no chances in Saturday night’s Taça de Portugal clash against lower-league side Paredes.

The manager has opted to rest his entire first-team for the game and to call up a raft of players from Benfica B.

 

“Some of my players were away on international duty for 11 days and played three games – they need a rest,” he explained [Scottish Sun]. “The squad are getting a break and won’t return to training until the day before we play Rangers in Glasgow.”

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“I am not disrespecting Paredes in any way. We know it will be a difficult game. Rangers is an important match for us and I want the players to be ready for Scotland.”

SL Benfica v SC Braga - Liga NOS

Benfica boss Jorge Jesus is wary of the threat posed by Rangers. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Jesus clearly believes his players will need to be as fresh and focused as possible to secure victory in Glasgow, at a ground where fellow Portuguese sides Porto and Braga both lost last season.

It’s remarkable to think how far Rangers have come in just a few years under Steven Gerrard.

The Gers were ridiculed after losing to Progres Niederkorn in 2017 but they’ve since earned back respect on the continent and with seven points from their first three matches in Group D, a spot in the knockout stages for the second consecutive season, is close.

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