Rangers will win the fight for Europe’s second biggest trophy
UEFA Cup Final, tonight, 7.45pm, ITV1, bet here
The last time Rangers played in a proper European final, in Barcelona against Dynamo Moscow in 1972, General Franco was still directing policing operations in Spain. Unfortunately for the old fascist, his forces of law and order found Rangers fans in a boisterous mood, as they celebrated their win by joining the players on the pitch before the game was over. The truncheons of the fat-bellied Guardia Civil were no match for the granite-headed protestants, and the soundly thrashed police were forced to beat a humiliating retreat, thus guaranteeing a warm welcome for all Scots in Barcelona for years to come. According to Graham Hunter, writing in Scotland’s Daily Herald, the referee in that game, one Sr. Ortiz, refutes the idea that this was a victory for freedom over repression. “The major factor was Scottish drunkenness to a degree I’d never witnessed before or since,” he said. But the forces of repression soon took their revenge. Hunter quotes former Barcelona president Montal: “The police shipped the Rangers fans out as quickly as possible, pushing them on to the 70 charter flights whether they had flown to Barcelona or not! The result was that for weeks afterwards I would drive to my office at the Camp Nou and pass dozens of cars with Scottish licence plates stranded in the streets around the stadium.” Moral of the story – Rangers fans: take public transport.
* Rangers have kept four consecutive clean sheets and have conceded just two goals in all eight UEFA Cup games, while Zenit have conceded on each European away trip this season.
* Zenit have won just one of their last six games.
* The joint top-scorer of this year’s tournament, and the only player to score in every stage, Pavel Pogrebnyak, is suspended and will miss the final for Zenit.