Predicted XI - How Rangers could line up against Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Champions League tie
Giovanni van Bronckhorst confessed “you will see some changes” but the Dutchman will know this isn’t a game for taking risks or being adventurous.
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Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst has acknowledged how much his team is falling short in recent weeks after a series of poor performances and he will recognise the clock is ticking on his Ibrox tenure.
Against Dundee in the Scottish League Cup and during Saturday’s Scottish Premiership match with Livingston, the Light Blues required a much-needed spark to overcome a turgid run of displays. It hasn’t arrived and not even Van Bronckhorst has been able to make a difference with the substitutes at his disposal.
If you were asked to pick one Champions League fixture you wouldn’t want right now given their current form, Serie A pacesetters and rampant Group A leaders Napoli would certainly vie for top spot on the shortlist. It’s unfortunate for Rangers that a total lack of form coincides with a dangerous visit to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the Campania region of Italy.
Confidence is at an all-time low, their appears to be a real lack of belief and inspiration among the current crop of players and Van Bronckhorst must now somehow find a way of executing an effective game plan against a free-scoring Napoli side who have already booked their spot in the knockout stages.
Pressure is undoubtedly growing on the Dutchman, who is struggling to get the best out of his squad after a 7-1 hammering at the hands of Liverpool, and with expectation levels in short supply, Rangers must set up in a way that can limit the Italian’s attacking threat.
Here, GlasgowWorld predicts how Rangers will line up in Naples:
Van Bronckhorst admits his side must play without fear if they are to get a positive result and confessed he will make some alterations to his starting line-up after a disappointing draw against Livingston at the weekend.
Speaking in his pre-match media conference last night, Van Bronckhorst said: “As I’ve said before, our game management is very important. We’re facing a team whose attacking really well, investing good with quality players all over the pitch so in these environments you have to be defensively solid.
“But you still have to find the moments to attack well, whether that’s in transition or in build-up. If you come here and only defend for 90 minutes, you’re waiting for the damage to be done. We have to be ready to be solid and take our moments to be dangerous as well. I think that’s very important.
“Of course, you want to start well. You want to make sure that you’re still in the game in the second half to get a positive result. We have a very demanding schedule and we have to rotate the squad because we need everone fresh and that’s a balance you need to find. You will see some changes.”
Rangers are likely to stick with Van Bronckhorst’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation.
ALLAN McGREGOR: (GK) - The 40-year-old stopper will retain his place between the sticks in favour of the underwhelming McLaughlin. Will undoubtedly be called upon oer the course of the game.
JAMES TAVERNIER: (RB) - Looked unconvincing once again on Saturday and is clearly needing a rest but there’s no able alternative down the right-hand side of their four-man backline. Will have his work cut out trying to contain Georgian star Kvaratskhelia.
LEON KING: (CB) - Taken off at half-time on Saturday due to illness, but is available and is expected to start at the heart of the Gers backline.
BEN DAVIES: (CB) - Likely to keep his place alongside youngster King as he continues to find his feet in a Gers jersey.
BORNA BARISIC: (LB) - The Croatian must bring some form of defensive stability to avoid another humiliating European display.
JOHN LUNDSTRAM: (CM) - Seemingly one of the first names on the teamsheet at present. Scored against Motherwell and Livingston in recent games. Will need to bring more energy and dynamism to his play.
JAMES SANDS: (CM) - Van Bronckhorst’s midfield options are restricted due to injury and the New York City loanee could be handed the taske of breaking up play in order to combat Napoli’s attacking threat. Did that to good effect against PSV Eindhoven.
SCOTT ARFIELD: (CAM) - Started on the right-hand side against Livingston at the weekend and was on pre-match media duties which would suggest he will keep his spot. Equally capable of playing through the middle in a slightly advanced midfield role.
RYAN KENT: (LW) - Will continue to operate on the left-hand side but must improve his final ball, which was severely lacking on Saturday. Has looked disinterested at times this season but he has to get his team mates up the pitch.
SCOTT WRIGHT: (RW) - Potentially a suitable option against this level of opposition given his mobility and good ball control. Might be given the nod over Tillman, Sakala or Matondo. Can offer more defensively as well.
ANTONIO COLAK: (CF) - Arguably the first-choice striker and is expected to spearhead the attack ahead of Morelos and Roofe. Needs to improve his hold up play, though. Does his best work in the box and when supported by team mates close to him.
On the bench: McLaughlin (GK), McCrorie (GK), Yilmaz, Davis, Matondo, Morelos, Roofe, McCann, Sakala, Devine, Tillman