Champions League nightmare laid bare for Rangers

Champions League nightmare laid bare for Rangers
PSV Eindhoven's Dutch forward Luuk de Jong (C) heads the ball to score his team's third goal during the UEFA Champions League play-off football match between PSV Eindhoven and Rangers FC at The Phillips stadium in Eindhoven, on August 30, 2023. (Photo by Olaf Kraak / ANP / AFP) / Netherlands OUT (Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

A night of optimism quickly disappeared, as the dawning reality of what Rangers faced to reach the promise land blew up in front of our eyes.

Now there was hope at 2-1, and if the bend of the ball on Matondo’s shot had been another few inches inside the post it would have been 3-2 and it’s game on again.

That’s all ifs and buts, taking a closer look at the game, yes the better team won by a country mile – but what was worrying is that the majority of the fans could see the goals coming!!!

Time and again we were overrun by their attackers, and from runners coming from midfield – at one point I had to count to see if PSV had more than 11 players on the pitch.

While MB will say it was good for us having the game at the weekend against Ross County, the free weekend looked as if it paid dividends for PSV as they looked stronger and fitter – they were on the whole first to every loose ball, they didn’t give us time on the ball at all; they had willing runners all the time they went forward, and even when winning 3-1 or 4-1 they still had the same desire to get out and close down. They hunted in packs, there was always an outlet for the player on the ball, players were demanding the ball, they were calm & composed under any pressure we managed to put on them. So yes, the right team went through, and they deserve credit – but how much of that comes down to our players and the tactics deployed by Michael Beale?

Defensively not a lot has changed from last season, and if it was not for Butland in goal then the score would be a lot worse. As much as Tav scores goals, his defending and positional sense at this level will always get found out, but he’ll never get dropped. Goldson and Souttar can’t play together at a high level, as they get exposed – but no doubt Souttar will be the one to get dropped come the weekend. Borna has been good up until last night, he had a torrid night against Bakayoko – but until Yilmaz can get fit we are stuck with Borna (depending on the extent of last night’s injury).

Our midfield were so slow last night, whereas PSV’s midfield were passing and moving, and we couldn’t keep up with that. How many times did they have players free just outside or just inside the 18-yard box with no one picking them up? Our lads looked leggy last night, which is remarkable given that we are only a handful of games into the season.

Upfront it was a thankless task for Dessers and Matondo, any time a ball went up to them they were either out numbered by the PSV defence, or they got the ball but had NO support from midfield. Not sure if Danilo or Sima would have made much of a difference to be fair.

The tactics deployed were designed it would appear to soak up pressure and hit on the break, the problem being as highlighted above, is that when Dessers and Matondo got the ball they were expected to do it all by themselves and there was no support offered to them.

The tactics weren’t working come ten mins into the game, and even at half time they didn’t change – so that’s on the manager here. However he also needs to accept that the defence at this level is not good enough – that was evident last season, and it’s been exposed again last night.

We still don’t know our best formation or best 11 players yet to take us forward for the season ahead – only one dead cert after last night is our number 1 is Butland.

The rest need to do a lot more.

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