Raul Riancho’s verdict of tonight’s clash with Rangers shows just how bad the mentality is at Spartak Moscow.
The Moscow boss stated his belief that his own club’s supporters will be difficult to play for. Apparently, this is going to be a harder task for Spartak than playing at a hostile Ibrox.
At the moment, Moscow seem to want to get out of home whenever they can. As they come into the contest in disarray, they do so having won none of their last four league games – losing all of them. Their only Europa League home match saw them draw 3-3 with Villarreal.
Riancho has admitted plenty since becoming caretaker manager of Spartak. Now, he’s even admitted he isn’t looking forward to facing his own supporters.
“Yes for sure the game will different because we knew Rangers are very powerful at home with such a fantastic support. Tomorrow we will play at home, we need to win to have any chance of qualifying from the group, so there will be a more offensive approach.
“For sure it won’t be easy to play at home but since I am an employee of Spartak, since I get my wages here at Spartak my focus is to protect my players from this outside influence, which can sometimes be negative.
“I will not sacrifice my players and I will always try and protect them from this negativity. And the players will only produce their best when they are secure, calm and happy.”
Home hurts for Spartak
In any European campaign for clubs like Rangers and Spartak, home form is vital. You simply have to look forward to getting your opposition back at your home ground. Fearing it gives you little to no chance of a good campaign.
If Riancho is correct about Moscow’s stars only performing when they’re calm and happy, that’s a concern for them. They appear to be lacking plenty of character about them. When supporters aren’t with you, it’s down to those players to make them get behind you once more.
Instead, Spartak’s caretaker boss seems to be quite happy to deflect them away from that.
Steven Gerrard simply has to be rubbing his hands at the disarray going on in Moscow these days. In most away matches in Europe, the key opening stages are crucial in calming down the support and frustrating the opposition.
Tonight, however, Rangers could do a lot worse than get on the front foot early and take it to Spartak. There are clear mental vulnerabilities about the club as a whole. That’s highly likely to filter down to the players, and Rangers have a huge chance to make them suffer for it.
It’s a huge contest, and Gerrard needs to use every advantage he can. Spartak’s mental frailties are one of his biggest.