Rangers vs Borussia Dortmund press conference from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and 5 things we learned
When it comes to European football, you don’t get much bigger than Borussia Dortmund.
It’s a huge club with an amazing fan base and they have one of the best players in the world in Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian might not be fit enough to play the first leg and Giovanni van Bronckhorst could secretly be happy about that.
The Rangers boss clashed with the media ahead of the trip to Germany and it should be a stunning game at the famous Westfalenstadion on Thursday night.
Dortmund are not a regular Europa League side and would normally be in the later stages of the Champions League, and that says a lot about the task ahead of Rangers.
Here are five things we learned from the press conference.
Friendship with Reyna
It was well known that Gio Reyna had a close relationship with van Bronckhorst, he was named after him at the end of the day.
But the Rangers boss spoke in more detail about their friendship and explained how the youngster used to visit them in Holland and train at Feyenoord academy.
It is clear that they have a close bond and it will certainly be interesting to see how they act side by side.
He said: “I played with his father Claudio and have been great friends with the whole family for many years.
“Gio is someone I’ve known since the day he was born, so I have a special relationship with him, as a friend but also as a player.
“He came to the Netherlands a lot to train with our youth academy in Feyenoord. He was with us and we were trying to help him become the player he is now.
“I’ve always stayed in touch, I still see each other at least once a year and it’s a special bond I have with the Reyna family and it will be special for both of us to play against each other.
“Hopefully it’s a good game and we’re both competitors we want to win, but it’s going to be a very special moment.”
The crowd inside Borussia Dortmund’s stadium tomorrow will be just 10,000 while the venue will be packed at Ibrox next week.
But van Bronckhorst downplayed that because Dortmund are still a high quality side.
They have the likes of Marco Reus and co. which Rangers will face, but the Ibrox boss insists they will be able to deal with the changing crowd.
Rangers are used to playing in front of full stadiums this season, give or take a few games, and van Bronckhorst is just aiming to return to Ibrox with a good result.
He said: “Of course it’s different playing for 10,000 people than with a full stadium. We know the differences, we’ve had those games this season as well.
“But we still face a good team, so for me it doesn’t make any difference. We just have to go out and perform.
“It’s two games. We know we’ll have the game next week at home, so we want to have the best possible result to resume.
“Next week we will have the second game at home with full support and full capacity, so the difference is there.
“Our goal is the same to get the best possible result.”
Erling Haaland looks set to miss the game against Rangers on Thursday night but van Bronckhorst has promised his players will be ready whether he is fit to play or not.
The striker hasn’t played since January 22 but he knows he is nearing a comeback and acknowledges how impressive he has been.
With 28 goals in 23 games in all competitions this season, he could be a worrying prospect for a Rangers defense that has at times leaked and has now been dogged by injuries.
van Bronckhorst said: “No doubt everyone recognizes his talent and the player he is. He is one of the best strikers in the world.
“Of course it’s about preparing for the game without him. Dortmund have been playing without him for weeks, so for me it’s just about preparing the players we will face and the qualities.
“It looks like he’s almost back to the game but everyone recognizes his talent. We have to prepare for the match where we face the players.
“It looks like he won’t be in the team tomorrow, but if he does we will also prepare if he plays.
“There is no doubt that he is a good player.”
Freedom given to Morelos and Kent
Alfredo Morelos has been in fine form since the new manager took over and he hopes he can fit him into the game against Borussia Dortmund.
Rangers’ top scorer in Europe will want to add to that tally and it would be impressive if he could.
And van Bronckhorst explained how he wanted Morelos to play, as well as Ryan Kent, with both players having the freedom to do what they think is right.
They also have to work in form, but they have a little more freedom to express themselves.
He said: “It’s a combination. You have players who will play with their intuition at certain points in the game.
“I think we have to give the players that freedom, not just Alfredo but all the forwards.
“They are able to play intuitively but you want to have your form as a team and Alfredo has a big part to play in that.
“At times he has to take the position that we want him to become dangerous and be in better shape as a team, but there are times when he has the freedom to do what he feels in those situations.
“He’s one of the players who can do that. Ryan (Kent) is another player who has the freedom to do what he feels in the areas where we want him to be.”
One thing that is slightly concerning for the fans is the contract situation at the club.
Kent and Joe Aribo are two players who will soon enter the final year of their deals and van Bronckhorst has confirmed they will hold talks soon.
He said: “I haven’t spoken to them about contract extensions or new talks.
“It’s something the club will do in the near future. We just have to make sure we have planned the future well.
“These are players who are important for our club and for our team, so I think the talks will start.
“Obviously with players of these qualities you want to have them as long as possible with your club.”