Philippe Clement has built a side that is hungry for success. That is why he will never pick and choose from a medal menu as he strives to put more silverware on the table at Ibrox.

In the minds of some supporters, the fixtures with Benfica are a side dish that risk overshadowing the main course for Rangers. That is not the case for Clement. A meeting with the Portuguese giants comes in the middle of a hectic run of domestic action but that is what the Belgian signed up for when he replaced Michael Beale. Quite simply, if you can’t handle the heat, you should get out of the kitchen.

Clement has been cooking up a storm since October. Victory over Real Betis a couple of months after his appointment secured a spot in this stage of the competition and it was followed by the first trophy of his tenure as Aberdeen were beaten at Hampden. In the weeks since, Clement has turned Rangers from hopeless challengers into potential champions and his side top the billing in the Premiership with just nine matches remaining this term.

The task of competing at home and abroad is one which can stretch even the most star-studded and expensively assembled squads in the game, never mind a group that is once again without a handful of its most established operators. Clement finds solutions rather than excuses, though. Time will tell if he has the recipe for success.

“No,” Clement said when asked if the Benfica fixtures were a distraction that he could do without. “And I said it in December. There were some people of the board who told me before our European game that it was maybe more important that we won the League Cup. I told them I never go that way because I want players who are hungry for every occasion and want to win every occasion.

“It doesn’t work that way. It is not like a menu in a restaurant that you pick out and now we are going to perform there or there. Like this, you don’t create a winning culture. OK it is a busy schedule, that is true, but it is about us working really hard with all the players, all the staff to get the players ready and for the players also to show that they are ready for that kind of competition. We are going to full for this game, going to go full at the weekend and go full again on Thursday. We will go like that until the end of the season.

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“No [the comment didn’t surprise me] because it was really with good intentions. The hunger to win a trophy again was so big in the club that everybody put emphasis on that. But afterwards, after our night in Spain, they were also really happy. And after winning the League Cup they were even more happy that they had both. I think everybody understands that we want to get the best out of everything and that we are going to work hard for that.”

That claim may have come out of the blue, but it was made with the heart as well as the head. Clement knows as well as anyone at Ibrox that he will be judged on what he wins and that is how legacies are formed at a club where medals and trophies are the only barometer of success. Those December days against Betis and Aberdeen helped set the tone for what has come since.

Clement now faces his sternest test yet in Lisbon. He has previously described Rangers as the underdogs in this fight and insisted that it is the first time in his reign where the odds have been so heavily stacked against him.

Those supporters who have made the trip to the Portuguese capital would surely be satisfied with a share of the spoils. Some may even take a narrow defeat. The Ibrox injury crisis may force Clement to alter his approach but the mindset will never change for the Belgian.

“We come to win now also,” Clement said. “I never start a game to lose or to play a draw. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe in putting the bus and only defending. I never done that. When it was with smaller teams to play in Madrid or in Paris or in Leipzig with Brugge, we always attacked to win games.

“I don’t think if you have a culture of that and working on every day to create chances to score goals and then for one game you are going to do the total opposite, the moment you get a goal against you kill the minds of your players. We will always play to create chances, like we did in Spain in that game when we defended really well and we attacked also. It is going to be the same. We need to defend really well because they have a lot of qualities in that way.”

These occasions have so often brought the best out of Rangers in recent seasons. Indeed, it says so much about the nights that have been enjoyed and the progress that has been made that supporters are somewhat nonchalant about being involved in this stage of European competition.

Clement will never take it for granted. A place in the last eight would bring back memories of the run to Seville and allow some to dare to dream. First, Rangers must rise to the occasion on the continent once again.

“The hunger, the desire,” Clement said. “Also you can play a different kind of football. I don’t know if you have been outside already but if you see the pitch, it is like Ibrox and you can play good football. That changes the style of play. And everyone knows that all of Europe is watching them.

“They did already really good things, it was a very strong performance to finish first in a group like that in the Europa League. Now it is a new challenge and a really huge one because Benfica will be ready, it will not be that they are underestimating. They need to react themselves so getting a result here would be a huge thing.”

Rangers have made the journey abroad still smarting from their defeat to Motherwell on Saturday. It was a result that saw no damage done in the title race but one which came from nowhere as Clement’s side hit an unexpected bump in the road.

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The same can be said of their hosts. Benfica lost 2-1 to Sporting last midweek before suffering a 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Porto. That naturally makes them something of a wounded animal but the gulf in resources was always going to make one of the great European names a considerable foe for Rangers to overcome.

“Huge,” Clement said when asked how he would describe the challenge of facing Benfica. “But because of that also exciting for us. There are not many games for Rangers that you don’t have much to lose. Normally you are the favourites, you need to win, you need to be dominant, you need to score a lot of goals, the expectations are high. In this case you need to be realistic. You know they have more than double of your budget but we are really ambitious. We are going to work really hard to get a result in the two games and to qualify. We are also convinced all of us that it is not only about money and about budget but about other things and that we are going to show our quality and work really hard in the two games.”