Financial crisis-hit Liege could be fortune for Rangers

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LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 27: Aragon Espinoza of Standard Liege looks dejected after conceding a late goal during the UEFA Champions League Qualifier Third Round Second Leg Match between Liverpool and Standard Liege at Anfield on August 27, 2008 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Up next is the Europa League, and our opponents this time are Standard Liège, a team that has won the Belgian league ten times.

But just like Galatasaray, Standard Liège has fallen on very tough times.

In April of 2020 their own financial crisis resulted in Standard Liège almost losing its license to play football in Belgium.

One month later, in May, the club was then bailed out by one their ex-players, but the club was forced to restructure.

Because of this financial crisis, just like Galatasaray the majority of players arriving this summer were free transfers, and going out the back door were eight players of which only one was sold.

And just like our last opponents, all this chaos has affected the team.

So, what can we expect on the pitch. Well, being blunt I really do not expect much from the current Standard Liège team.

Overall, their forward line appears to be very static, and in attack they seem to have only two tactics. The first is to play to the wing, and then four players will form a long line and run hopefully into the box; and the second is if the ball comes through the midfield. Here their lack of inventiveness, and their lack of speed usually forces them to shoot from distance.

The one strength they do have is they are all good divers and they approach the penalty box like it’s a swimming pool.

I have also seen them try to roughen up their opponents, but it has to be said they are not as bad as Scott Brown, who decided to launch an unprovoked elbow to the face of Barisic on Saturday.

Yep I’m guessing that no-one will investigate that one, and Scott Brown will be given yet another pass by the SFA…. (it’s just so predictable its depressing)

Anyways, when attacking, their defensive line plays a ridiculously high line, just like Braga who we played last year. This reliance on a high line, to pressure the weaker teams into making mistakes, creates huge gaps, which Rangers should be able to take full advantage of, if they decide to use it in Thursday’s game.

As I mentioned last year, Braga were only flying high because they are playing really crazy football, and taking unbelievable chances. This is very similar to this year, where Standard Liège are now fourth, but are only 1 point behind the leaders, Club Brugge. Being blunt, Standard have been very lucky, and a few well timed “penalties”, in a number of their games have kept them in the top half of the league.

If Rangers are focused, and we do not repeat the problems we all saw last year after the winter break, when we had six prima-donnas in our team who thought they didn’t have to run, or help their team-mates, we should be able to win this game.

However, as always, in the Europa league, there are no weak teams.

We need to respect them, because they do have some good players in their team. Zinho Vanheusde, their captain, has just been promoted to the Belgium national team, and there are many other players in the current Standard Liège who have played up to U21 level. Mehdi Carcela, who many consider to be their most dangerous player is now 31 and has retired from playing at the international level.

As a note, he briefly played for the Belgium national team 10 years ago, before switching to play for Morocco. At international level he took six years to score his first goal.

This match is Rangers’ to lose.