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Rangers riding high going into Barca match
by Paul Kennedy, October 23rd, 2007 7AM

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[MARQUEE MATCHUP] Rangers and Barcelona play for the Group E lead when they meet Tuesday in the Champions League at Ibrox.

Both teams won their first two games in group play, but they had contrasting fortunes over the weekend.

Rangers won the Old Firm derby with a 3-0 win over Celtic on Saturday to tie its Glaswegian rival for the Scottish Premier League lead. Barca, on the other hand, is coming off a 3-1 loss at Villarreal, its first defeat of La Liga season.

Spanish striker Nacho Novo was the Old Firm hero with two goals against Celtic. With Frenchman Jean-Claude Darcheville sidelined with a hamstring injury, Novo will have to carry the attack against Barcelona.

American DaMarcus Beasley, who scored the third goal in the 3-0 win over French champion Lyon, should see action on Tuesday.

The Catalan club came out flat at Villarreal and paid the price with a resounding defeat.

"We lacked sharpness in the first 15 minutes and once we went 2-0 down I knew we were going to suffer," said Barca coach Frank Rijkaard.

Rijkaard has all sorts of injury problems going into the Rangers game.

Holding midfielders Yaya Toure, Edmilson and Rafael Marquez are all out injured, and playmaker Deco went off the field with a thigh injury against Villarreal.

That leaves Rijkaard to have to choose between 19-year-old Marc Crosas, who has yet to play for the first team in La Liga or the Champions League, or Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen to provide support in midfield against Rangers.

Rangers -- McGregor, Hutton, Weir, Cuellar, Papac, McCulloch, Thomson, Ferguson, Adam, Novo, Cousin.
Barcelona -- Valdes, Oleguer, Puyol, Milito, Abidal, Iniesta, Xavi, Gudjohnsen, Messi, Ronaldinho, Henry.
Referee: Konrad Plautz (Austria).



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