AFTER a well deserved no score draw at the Phillips Stadion last Thursday night, Rangers are at home in the second leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie looking to progress to the quarter finals of the competition for a second time in three years.
The five-man defence of Foster, Bougherra, Weir, Bartley and Whittaker restricted current Dutch Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven to few clear cut chances and frustrated the home support as the game finished 0-0.
The main dangermen for PSV Eindhoven (Ola Toivonen, Jeremain Lens and Balázs Dzsudzsák) could not get through the steel wall of the Rangers defence and there were only a few half-chances to get the Eindhoven supporters off their feet. Kyle Bartley forced PSV keeper Isaakson into a brilliant save at the start of the second half and many thought it was in the back of the net. That away goal would have set The Gers up perfectly for Thursday’s reverse fixture.
A common concern amongst the Rangers support in view of the game is the fact that they have to attack and get at least a goal. Away from home in Europe, Rangers sit back and play a defensive formation and hit on the counter attack but do not create a lot of chances. At Ibrox on Thursday, PSV will come needing a goal and so do Rangers. And end-to-end game is not what Rangers fans want, knowing that PSV’s quality may shine through in the tussle. After all, they are leading the Dutch league at the present moment.
Balázs Dzsudzsák is PSV’s Hungarian left-winger and although not bothering Rangers much in the first leg, will be a huge threat to Rangers’ hopes of progressing. Of course, he is not Rood-Witten’s only quality player but this man possesses a lot of the skills required to help your team get a goal. He has pace, a wicked left foot and a good crossing ability. Richard Foster is most likely to feature at right back/right wing-back, and he will have a job on his hands keeping this guy at bay. But perhaps Foster’s willingness to attack down the right flank will counteract Dzsudzsák’s runs?
However that battle goes, there are other areas of the pitch where Rangers must come out on top if they want to get through this. No doubt we will see a different PSV Eindhoven side to the one that did not strike the heather on fire last week. A 5-4-1 will be deployed by Walter Smith, giving extra protection to the 40-year-old captain Davie Weir, leaving four midfielders ahead of them.
My choice of those four would be Whittaker at right midfield, a centre pairing of Davis and Hutton, with Weiss on the left. As Papac will return at left back, I would go with;
– Foster, Bougherra, Weir, Bartley, Papac –
– Whittaker, Davis, Hutton, Weiss –
– Healy –
Maurice Edu has not been performing for months now, and losing possession as frequently as he does is not helping the team. Kyle Hutton is a fantastic young prospect but I believe him to be good enough now. He has started against Manchester United and Valencia in the Champions League and in the first leg in the Netherlands.
I believe Vladimir Weiss should be playing near enough every game for Rangers. He causes the defenders problems and is capable of some magic. He showed on Sunday in the SPL game against Kilmarnock when he came on as a substitute and crossed the ball for the own goal to hand us a late winner that he can create opportunities for the team.
David Healy should be given a chance up front in my opinion. He has not featured enough for me since joining and I think he is capable of doing a good job. El-Hadji Diouf up top on his own is not the answer, he doesn’t have enough pace to do that hard shift and just isn’t the right type of player for it.
A treble is still very much on even if the domestic treble is gone.