GIOVANNI VAN BRONCKHORST addressed the pressure on him in Portugal. As he heads to Paisley, he expressed the need to be perfect.

Defeat to Braga on Thursday night wasn’t a disaster for Rangers but there is the requirement to improve – both in terms of the performance and the result – when Carlos Carvalhal’s side travel to Glasgow next week. Lose, and the European dream is over.

Rangers will find themselves in the same situation on Sunday. Many already consider their title defence to be finished, but failing to overcome St Mirren would be the final blow from which the champions cannot recover this term.

There have been few aspects that have been perfect at Ibrox in recent times. Van Bronckhorst knows, however, that his side must be on point and at their peak if their faint Premiership aspirations are to remain flickering.

“Yes, we need to be,” Van Bronckhorst said. “We have to keep the pressure on. Of course the result last week didn’t help us in achieving that.

“But we have to keep going. In April, when you feel the pressure you are playing for major prizes.

“But still, in the end, you don’t have anything yet so you have to keep going.

“Your games against your big rivals are always big games but you have to win the three points in all the other games as well.

“In most of the games we lost points, we did it unnecessarily. We dropped too many points before and also lost the last two direct confrontations with Celtic.”

The challenge of managing the Thursday to Sunday schedule can be a difficult one to master. Come next week, it may no longer be an issue for Van Bronckhorst.

The Dutchman is not getting the best out of his squad or his team right now and performance levels are not what are expected or should be delivered.

St Mirren won’t provide the same challenge as Celtic or Braga and the Paisley clash offers Van Bronckhorst a chance to plan ahead for the Europa return whilst also aiming for a much-needed domestic victory.

“We don’t have any major concerns for Sunday,” Van Bronckhorst said. “Of course, we have players who gave everything and are really tired.

“Some players are playing a lot of games in the last week and months. So obviously these games in Europe will take a lot out of the body, energy-wise and physically-wise. But we have to prepare for Sunday now.

“Of course [the squad depth] is [important]. We also made some changes [on Thursday]. It’s quite impossible to play with a fixed eleven in these weeks with so many games, important games.

“So we have to rotate where we can and use the depth of the squad.”

Rangers will head to Paisley with points to earn and to prove after successive defeats that have raised questions over Van Bronckhorst’s position and the ability and mentality of his squad.

The narrow loss on Thursday evening was far from a disaster for Rangers. It could have been better, but it could also have been worse.

As it stands, Rangers have a chance heading into the second leg. Time will tell whether they are able to make the most of it or not.

“Of course we didn’t want to lose but you have to take back a result when you are still in the tie,” Van Bronckhorst said. “We are.

“We had the possibilities to get a better result. At times we looked dangerous, especially in transition.

“The last 20 minutes of the game, we were pushing for the 1-1. You could see the margins are very close against a quality team.

“They have shown that also in moments of the game. But still we have all to play for next week. We know at home at Ibrox we can have the result we want

“It was quite a close call . It could have been a draw, we also created some chances to score.

“But in the end we weren't as clinical as we wanted to be. A 1-0 defeat away in Europe without away goals, it means a win at home with a two-goal difference sends us through.

“But we are still only halfway and all to play for come Thursday.”

If Rangers are to continue on the continent and book their place in the semi-finals – where a tie with RB Leipzig or Atalanta awaits – then everyone will need to be singing from the same hymn sheet at Ibrox come Thursday night.

The stage is set for a potentially thrilling and historic evening. If those on the park and in the stands are at their best, Braga can be beaten.

Van Bronckhorst said: “They are always crucial. The support we feel at home, but also abroad, is amazing. Everywhere we go, we have a lot of support behind us so that always feels really good.

“Of course with 50,000 people next week the atmosphere at Ibrox in Europe is amazing. We just have to make sure we get the performance we want and after the game are through to the semi-final.

“That’s our goal and that’s our only goal we have next week.”