Predicted Rangers XI to face Villarreal – is this good enough to win?


Tomorrow night Rangers do something we have not done for the lion’s share of a decade – we will compete with our European peers in the group stages of European competition.

The last time Rangers were in any group stage was 2010, and that Champions League group with Man Utd and Bursaspor – remember all that? Kenny scored against the Turks then they signed him the following January.

Here we are in 2018 and Kenny is no longer part of Rangers (albeit not by much) and a new era, a new Rangers squad, and a new manager takes their maiden bow in a serious European competition for their first time, and the club’s first in far too long.

Of course, manager Steven Gerrard has won this tournament before, in its previous form of the Uefa Cup, and Rangers got to the final a decade ago. How things have stayed the same yet changed.

But tomorrow is his first time as manager, and as we illustrated earlier, the squad is not at full health for the trip to Spain to meet Villarreal, and while we anticipate this match with great hopes, there is no expectancy on our part to get the three points.

With no Alfredo Morelos or Ryan Jack, Rangers are weakened in the eyes of some – Morelos has a couple of UEL goals and is capable at this level, while Jack was monstrous against Osijek in particular before injury laid him out (again).

The best Rangers have played has been with the 4-3-3 – indeed, all the poor displays (Shkupi, Motherwell, Celtic) were using different systems and none worked. If Gerrard is wise, he will stick with 4-3-3 for tomorrow.

As for what personnel, the XI mostly selects itself in light of the absences.

The back five will be McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic and Barisic.

Midfield will be Halliday, Coulibaly and Arfield, while up front Kent and Lafferty are certain starters with only really the final slot in attack up for grabs between Daniel Candeias and a slim shout for Eros Grezda or Glenn Middleton.

We can’t imagine much different from:

McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barisic; Halliday, Coulibaly, Arfield; Candeias, Lafferty, Kent

Whatever team lines up though, this really is a historic match. This level of competition is where Rangers should be.

It’s been far, far too long.


  1. Candeias should get a start for his tracking back and link up play with Tavernier. Tav is much better defensively when they play together. I also think Mcrorie should play instead of Halliday but I dont think Stevie G rates him. Saying that Halliday has been playing well lately and probably deserves a start.

  2. Looking forward to this game and will be a big test for the Gaffer and the Team. Ultimately a benchmark on how far we’ve come and still have to go. They’re no mugs but neither are we I just have a gut feeling we can sneak a win the morra..

    Onwards & Upwards 🔴⚪️🔵

  3. I agree, the right side is stronger when Candeias and Tavernier play together, both defensively and going forward. I think the team pretty much picks itself as suggested. Lets hope for a good showing against difficult opponents.

  4. Lets be real here guys.. Europe was never the key objective..its nice to be part of it but it's about the League and being the best in Scotland If we gain experience and financial gain and kudos then fine but for me the League and Cups are our aim

    • Spot on Bill. I wouldn't go as far as saying the group results don't matter but we've already achieved our European goal by qualifying. It was all about the money and we should stand to make in excess of £10m with our efforts. As long as we don't embarrass ourselves against higher quality opposition then I'll be happy. If we can sneak a couple of wins along the way I'll be delighted but I fear it's very unlikely to be in Spain.

  5. Def agree on Candeias – also that Halliday is the preference vs Mccorie, his time will come. Main thing is that SG goes with 4 at the back. A draw would be a great result.

  6. I agree w Billy, Candeias best man to protect Tav.

    Only alternative might be McCrorie, but think Halliday will get the slot as he played at the weekend

  7. Given that morelos is out i would like to see the manager try something a little different. 4 at the back, 3 n the middle, 2 like kent and candieas in between the 3 and laff, basically 4-3-2-1. as it gives laff the opportunity to hold it and bring the 2 behind into play as opposed to it bouncing off him and coming straight back at us, it also allows us to go to a 5 if under pressure n the wide areas with kent and candieas playing their usual roles. there is also the option later in the game of deploying grezda and middleton as 2 no.10's behind laff dependant on the way the game is going. unfortunatley SG will not adopt these tactics but never mind as long as we take something from it.

  8. A team with Halliday in the middle of the park will win nothing of note.

    I’ve had that opinion for a few years and the more I see him the more I believe it.


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