Xherdan Shaqiri has praised both the Rangers players and the Ibrox atmosphere ahead of Thursday’s Europa League showdown between the Gers and Lyon [Daily Record].

The clash is one of the most hotly-anticipated of all the matchday one fixtures, and Steven Gerrard will be hoping to oversee his third consecutive group stage opening day victory.

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After two consecutive runs to the Last 16, Steven Gerrard will want to go even further in the Europa League this season. (Photo by ADAM JASTRZEBOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Gers come into the match on a high after a 2-1 comeback win at St Johnstone in the Premiership at the weekend, while Lyon defeated Strasbourg 3-1 in their Ligue 1 fixture.

There’s been plenty of talk about the famous Ibrox European night atmosphere in the build-up to the game, with Man United legend Gary Neville labelling it the noisiest away ground he ever played at and Lyon boss Peter Bosz making it clear that he’s excited to return.

Now, ex-Liverpool and Bayern Munich star Shaqiri, who joined the French giants late last month, has also talked up both the Ibrox faithful and the standard of the Light Blues’ squad.

“Rangers and their stadium is known and I don’t think we can expect an easy evening,” he said [Daily Record]. “The atmosphere will be intense – but it doesn’t do them justice to just talk about the intensity of the fans.”

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“Rangers are champions, they have some real quality, and it will be a big test for us.

 

“We started the season slowly but now we are finding the way we want to play and are confident.”

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Shaqiri (pictured on his Lyon debut at the weekend) has praised Rangers and the Ibrox atmosphere ahead of a big Europa League showdown. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

These are respectful comments from Shaqiri, a highly decorated player who has won two Champions Leagues, as well as league titles in Switzerland, Germany and England.

Perhaps they are an indication of how far Rangers have come in Europe under Gerrard, with Porto, Feyenoord and Braga amongst those to be downed in Govan in recent years.

Shaqiri himself hasn’t benefitted from regular playing time over the last few seasons, but he notched an assist on his Lyon debut on Sunday and would no doubt prove a handful for the Gers defence.

However, Inside Futbol reported on Tuesday evening that the Switzerland international is unavailable for the Ibrox clash because he would have to quarantine upon his return to France if he travelled, as he isn’t yet fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Rangers’ partners Castore have struck a reported £25m deal with a major sports body.

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