Having produced a fine performance in Europe last night, Rangers’ players stats are certainly worth looking at, in comparison with previous displays this year.
Just what was different last night to make it so much more competent?
If we look at the obvious starting point – the shape.
The ill-fitting 4-3-3 which really was a 4-3-2-1 which saw the ‘wingers’ narrow through the centre was completely gone, replaced by a clean and compact 4-2-3-1 and the team mostly kept to this shape.
They were able to press far more effectively because no part of the team was isolated, and we saw a lot of hunting in packs as they went for their prey.
But when we look at the actual numbers, it’s most intriguing of all.
Starting at the front, one of the biggest stats was the number of times Morelos got the ball. Gone were recent 20s, and 30s, now he was into the 50s. Contrarily his passing average was far worse than usual, at just 67%, but this showed the number of times he was getting the ball to at least hold up for his mates, or cause the defence pressure.
And this touch level remained consistent through the team. It’s a big change – instead of three or four players having way more of the ball and dallying on it, such as Goldson, Tav, Kamara and Davis, it was a team game where just one player had a bit more, Tav and the rest were more or less the same, give or take. Most players were around 50-60 touches, which meant the distribution was far far better.
Another stat was even more intriguing. Instead of the whole of the team taking up attacking responsibility, it was left instead to the attackers.
Remember how Gio is all about getting the ball to the final third as fast as possible? Well that’s borne out in the attack stats, which saw Aribo, Kent and Morelos the only men who took shots all night. 11 shots between them.
This was quite deliberate. Because the ball ended up at the front so quickly, it was the main attackers who were having pops.
Worked quite well we’d say.
As did the whole system.
Long may it continue.