Predicted XI - How Rangers could line up against Ajax at Ibrox in Champions League tie
The Light Blues bring the curtain down on a miserable Champions League campaign against the Eredivisie champions.
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Rangers conclude a dismal Champions League campaign when Ajax visit Ibrox Stadium tonight with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side desperate to avoid the unwanted tag of being named the worst ever team in group stage history.
The Light Blues have yet to muster a single point from their previous five matches, scorring just a solitary goal and conceding 19 to leave them pointless at the bottom of Group A.
Remarkably, the Glasgow giants still have an outside chance of snatching third spot from the Dutch champions and achieving Europa League football after Christmas if they can rack up a miraculous wide-margin success by scoring FOUR or more goals.
Rangers are currently the worst performing club in the competition this season with Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen only a goal behind and with more injuries to contend with, Van Bronckhorst will be forced to shuffle his team once again heading into this game.
Full-back Ridvan Yilmaz was ruled out until the World Cup with a hamstring problem and Ben Davies misses out after sustaining a knock against Aberdeen on Saturday. That doesn’t leave the Dutchman many options defensively and he has a further headache in midfield with mainstay John Lundstram serving a one-match suspension after picking up three cautions across the campaign.
Here, GlasgowWorld predicts how Rangers will line up against Ajax:
Van Bronckhorst claims his side must aim to reach the level Ajax are at ahead of the meeting between Group A’s bottom two sides as he pointed out the difference between the clubs.
Having lost 4-0 in Amsterdam in their section opener, Rangers need an unlikely 5-0 win to extend their European involvement into the new year but the Dutchman reckons even a point to finish their first Champions League campaign in 12 years would be a “positive”.
Speaking in his pre-match media conference, Van Bronckhorst said: “We have been doing well in Europe the last three years, but we are still not at the same level as Ajax. We are developing and that’s the way it is. It is the way the differences are in Europe at the moment.
“If you see Ajax, the players overall are from a higher level, their budget is higher. They bought players for £100 million. They bought na not bad defender (Calvin Bassey) from us last season. We cannot compare ourselves to Ajax but we can compete with them on the day, especially at home at Ibrox.
“The group is really hard. You can see Ajax only have three points. Last year they had a 100 per cent record in the Champions League (group stage). We can match their points if we win, so that shows you the level Napoli and Liverpool have shown in this group. It’s still going to be a really hard game because Ajax is a very good team.”
Rangers are likely to stick with Van Bronckhorst’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
ALLAN McGREGOR: (GK) - The veteran has reclaimed the number one spot and it’s highy likely he will continue between the sticks.
JAMES TAVERNIER: (RB) - Re-discovered his goalscoring form at the weekend which will have given him a confidence boost.
LEON KING: (CB) - Has established himself at the heart of the Gers backline due to an ever-growing injury list and has performed with real credit. Another tough evening in store.
JAMES SANDS: (CB) - Handed a rare start in midfield against Napoli last week and retained his spot at the weekend. Expected to drop back into defence to partner youngster King in Davies’ absence.
BORNA BARISIC: (LB) - Will reclaim the left-back slot following the injury to Yilmaz. Some time on the bench might have freshened him up a little bit.
STEVEN DAVIS: (CM) - His vast experience plus a shortage of midfield options will see the Northern Ireland veteran step into the middle of the park.
GLEN KAMARA: (CM) - Has returned to fitness and is in contention to start for the first time in over a month. Likely to be thrown straight in.
MALIK TILLMAN: (CAM) - Man of the match display against Aberdeen on Saturday in a No10 role he appears most effective in. Will hope to exploit any space granted by the visitors defence.
RYAN KENT: (LW) - A European campaign to forget for the Englishman but he will be determined to restore some pride with an impressive performance against the Eredivisie giants.
FASHION SAKALA: (RW) - The Zambian has surely earned his chance to make the troublesoe right-wing slot his own for the time being. Adds pace and creativity which will be required here.
ANTONIO COLAK: (CF) - Now firmly the club’s number one attacking option as the number nine, and another goal at the weekend will have done the Croatian no harm at all. Should be given the nod over Morelos.
On the bench: McLaughlin (GK), McCrorie (GK), Matondo, Wright, McCann, Arfield, Devine, Lowry, Ure, Allan