Gio’s genius as Rangers turn defeat around completely

Gio’s genius as Rangers turn defeat around completely
Rangers' Dutch manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst gestures on the touchline during the UEFA Europa League play-off second leg football match between Rangers and Borussia Dortmund at the Ibrox Stadium, in Glasgow, on February 24, 2022. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

There is absolutely no doubt, and this isn’t a Steven Gerrard-bashing session because we’re past all that, that the ex-manager would not have won against Dortmund.

Quite simply, because he had no other formation aside 4-3-3 and wouldn’t have made the dramatic half time switch in formation that Gio did, a formation which changed the match totally and gave Rangers back momentum.

The first half had seen the normal 4-2-3-1 that Gio favours, and while it hadn’t played badly, it lacked some cohesion, and defensively it was poor – exposed many times, along with Goldson’s errors, the formation hadn’t quite worked despite the goal and Dortmund went in at half time with all the momentum, 1-2 up and looking like adding.

But Gio made a change, and one he’s done a couple of times before. He took the ineffectual Borna Barisic off, and replaced with Leon Balogun, shifting Bassey wide left to his best LB position, and hauling John Lundstram back into the middle of defence to make a back 5.

This changed everything.

Borussia stopped getting the leverage down the wings they’d had, and they were finding less joy through the middle.

Despite sacrificing a midfielder, Rangers were more dangerous, because with the home side playing the low block, Dortmund were pushing more men forward to get through it, exposing themselves, something which Alfredo Morelos and Ryan Kent were exploiting to great effect.

Despite having that upper hand at 45, it was gone after the break, the shift in Rangers’ system nullifying Borussia’s threat almost entirely, and it was left to Rangers instead to score another, albeit it should have been 3-2 on the night but for an unfortunate piece of VAR decision-making.

This is the difference with having Gio – he’s a flexible tactician, and he understands football in a way no Rangers manager since Walter has. Sure, domestically things have been a little patchy the last while, we know that, but this is a manager who is still learning.

And he’s showing what we can do in Europe under him.

He’s only played four matches as Rangers manager. Yet to lose to any of Praha, Lyon or Dortmund.

Not bad really.

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