Charlie Adam plays down Rangers Moussa Dembele concerns as he issues Karim Benzema Lyon comparison
Charlie Adam watched in awe as a young Karim Benzema sent Rangers crashing out of the Champions League the last time Lyon were at Ibrox.
The Dundee skipper is certain Steven Gerrard ’s side won’t come up against anyone as special as the French superstar when the clubs meet again in Glasgow on Thursday night.
But Adam believes this time both can progress by finishing first and second in their Europa League group.
The former Gers midfielder was part of Walter Smith’s squad who beat Lyon 3-0 away in 2007 before losing the return game by the same scoreline.
Benzema bagged a double at Ibrox and went on to become one of the best strikers on the planet.
In midweek, former Celtic star Moussa Dembele will be the biggest threat to Gers as they begin another Euro adventure.
But as Adam recalled those clashes with Lyon from 14 years ago, he admitted Benzema was on a different level. He said: “The only thing I remember about the game at Ibrox was Benzema and how good he was.
“In the first game over there we never saw him. But in the return he was frightening.
“He scored two goals and was just phenomenal. It’s easy to understand now why he went on to have an unbelievable career at Real Madrid.
“He’s a world-class player. Apart from being gutted and deflated that we were out that night, Benzema is what sticks in my mind.
“He was untouchable, with Juninho behind him in midfield.
“Obviously, Dembele is a good player but Benzema’s career speaks for itself.
“Lyon still have top players and although PSG are the best club in France now, they’re always there or thereabouts along with Lille.
“It’s a big game, the first of the group, but at Rangers these are the games you want to play in. I do believe Rangers will be thinking they can progress with Lyon through the group.
“Certainly, if they can win the first game it gives them a great chance.”
Adam played his part in one of Rangers’ greatest ever results in Europe when they battered Lyon in their own backyard.
Goals from Lee McCulloch, DaMarcus Beasley and Daniel Cousin sealed a memorable win which should have set Smith’s side on their way to the knockout phase.
But Lyon eventually went through with Barcelona, while Rangers dropped into the UEFA Cup and reached the final.
Adam, speaking as part of his involvement with McDonald’s Fun Football, which will be providing free sessions for kids aged 5-11 across Scotland this autumn, said: “We’d beaten Stuttgart in the first Champions League game and I scored.
“In Lyon, I came off the bench near the end for Beasley and we were 3-0 up. I just remember Cousin being brilliant in the game for us.
“Lyon were a proper team. They had Benzema, Juninho, Kim Kallstrom, Sidney Govou, Jeremy Toulalan – top players.
“They were winning the league in France every year so we were up against one of Europe’s top teams.
“But we were just incredible that night.
“Jig scored a header, DaMarcus scored but Cousin ran riot.
“It was a huge win for us. We probably didn’t realise how big it was at the time. We thought it put us in a great position to qualify for the next stage. We only needed another four points but just couldn’t manage it.”