Rangers v Galatasaray – in-depth preview

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Galatasaray's head coach Fatih Terim reacts during the Turkish Super league football match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce on September 27, 2020 at TT Ali Samiyen sport complex in Istanbul. (Photo by Ozan KOSE / AFP) (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Unless you have been living under a rock, everyone knows this Thursday Glasgow Rangers play Galatasaray for a place in the Europa League group stage. Kickoff is at 7:45 PM.

As we alluded to in our previous article, this Galatasaray team is not the all-conquering team we all saw 20 years ago.

The financial crisis that hit Turkey two years ago has forced Galatasaray into some major changes which means the team is now filled with players who are either reaching retirement age, or are free-transfers.

So, what can we expect from our visitors?

For the game against Rangers I expect Galatasaray to play a 4-4-2 formation. In this match they need to score, unless they plan to try to win in a penalty shoot-out, and they do not have the speed, in their team, to try a 5-3-2, or a 4-1-4-1

Amongst their forwards the one player we need to watch is 28 year old 6’ 4” Mbaye Diagne. He is their physical player, who likes to disrupt the game and dive for penalties.

It is probable that Diagne will partner Falcao, who despite being 34 years old, still has the Defoe-type knack of knowing how to be in the right place at the right time. On the right wing we expect to see 30 year old Sofiane Feghouli, and on the left either 33 year old Arda Turan, who has played 100 times for the Turkey national team or 33 year old Ryan Babel, who played alongside Gerrard at Liverpool from 2007 to 2011.

As can be seen, there is a ton of experience in the Galatasaray front line, and they will punish teams who give them too much space.

In open play, to supply their aging front line Galatasaray employ a much younger midfield, whose average age is circa 26 years old. On reviewing their players Taylan Antalyali is a potential threat, and you will see him ghost into the penalty box, but none of the midfielders are particularly fast, and I seldom seen any of them dribbling around a defender.

Instead their midfield often tries (with some success) to play accurate passes down the channels.

In the back row, don’t expect their defenders to bomb forward. Galatasaray play old style football, with again aging, relatively experienced defenders.

Looking to the Rangers team, it would be intriguing to see what Jordan Jones on one side and Ryan Kent on the other, with Roofe (yes we know he is recovering from injury) and Cedric Itten in the middle could do to this Galatasaray team.

I believe Roofe creates far greater communication between the midfield and the forward line than either Morelos or Defoe, which allows the entire Rangers team to play with more balance. Itten gives added height to the attack, which could be useful to combat some of the height that exists in the Galatasaray team.

This is a team that does inspire some degree of respect, but I really see nothing to fear. With a little bit of luck, we should be in pot 2 for the group stage.