Preview PSV-Rangers: Dont expect total football Eindhoven fans

On Thursday night, Scottish champions Rangers will go to the Phillips Stadion in Eindhoven to entertain Dutch league leaders PSV.

After Stef Meens preview of the Dutch side, I am going to preview the Scottish champions and analyse their chances for Thursday night.

I am writing this a few hours after watching Rangers win their latest match against St Mirren in the SPL. They will have to play a lot better against PSV, if they are to bring any sort of result back to Scotland.

They struggled for long periods of the game against a side 2nd bottom of the SPL. At points, they struggled to make simple passes to each other and looked devoid of creativity.

On Thursday night Rangers will also have a number of players out including £4m striker Nikica Jelavic, who is ineligible for the Europa League, Steven Naismith, one of their top performers this season and Lee Mcculloch, always a presence in midfield among others.

However, there are positives for Rangers to be taking into this game. Firstly, the formation that Walter Smith puts out very rarely fails in European competition, especially away from home.

3 years ago, Rangers got to the Uefa Cup final based on their away form, although in each case they had played the first leg at home. However, this Rangers side seem to adapt very well away from home, containing the opposition for long periods of the game and trying to hit them on the counter attack.

They did this successfully in the last round in Lisbon,although they did look shakier in defence than they had done in previous matches.

Depending on who is fit, it looks likely either El Hadji Diouf or Kyle Lafferty will play the lone striker role. If Rangers wish to get anything out of this game, I think Walter has to go with Diouf. For all his faults and there are endless ones, he played this role against Lisbon a hell of a lot better than Lafferty.

Lafferty missed a barrel load of chances against the Portuguese side in the first leg and for a big striker doesn’t easily bully defenders.

Diouf hasn’t exactly set the world alight since joining Rangers but his best performance in a blue jersey did come in Lisbon, when he scored his teams opening goal. Lets not forget, he was a man Liverpool once paid £10m for. He could possibly be the man to give Rangers that bit of spark to get a priceless away goal.

That spark could also come from Steven Davis. The midfielder was the best player in Scotland last season, although he has been poor this season by his standards. In recent weeks, he has came back into some form and can still boss midfield with his range of passing and drive.

However, I fear this game may be a very defensive affair and Rangers will be at the forefront of it. PSV are a dangerous attacking side, who even scored 10 goals in one game this season and put 5 goals past Lille in the round of 32.

Rangers defenders will need to focus 100% for 90 minutes, something they have shown time and time again over their last few European campaigns. Before dropping into the Europa League, they performed admirably in a tough Champions League group, the highlight being a backs-to the wall draw against Man Utd at Old Trafford. Whilst PSV may not be in Utd’s calibre, they are a better side than Lisbon, so Rangers can ill afford the mistakes they made for the two goals they conceded in Portugal.

Rangers defence looks likely to be weakened by the loss of Sasa Papac, one of the side’s most consistent performers. The back 5- including goalkeeper Allan Mcgregor almost rolls of the tongue for Rangers fans- Mcgregor, Whittaker, Weir, Bougherra, Papac. That will need to be re-jigged in Eindhoven, so that is something that PSV could exploit.

However, on the plus side for Rangers, Richard Foster has performed well in European games this season and will probably slot in at right back, with Steven Whittaker switching to left back.

Filling the last gap in the Rangers defence will be Kyle Bartley an on-loan signing from Arsenal. Bartley has performed well since joining in January and scored the winner against St Mirren today. His presence and pace could be a great asset for his team in coping with PSV’s strikers.

Rangers will need to have some luck to not concede against a side that are scoring at a rate of almost 2.5 goals a game, 44 of those coming at home, where they have only lost twice.

PSV could well become frustrated at the Scottish sides defensive play and that could let Rangers in for a killer away goal. The game will be decided by the team that keeps their discipline and possibly doesn’t tire towards the end of the 90 minutes. Both sides have dangerous players in their line-ups,although Rangers will badly miss Nikica Jelavic.

It would be a significant achievement if Rangers came back to Scotland with an away goal or even a goalless draw, which would put them in a strong position for the 2nd leg.


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