Rangers must once again carry the Scottish UEFA can alone

Rangers must once again carry the Scottish UEFA can alone
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 09: Players of Rangers pose for a team photograph prior to the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 match between Rangers FC and AC Sparta Praha at Ibrox Stadium on November 09, 2023 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Despite our bad start to the Europa league, depending on results elsewhere, we might not even need a draw for tomorrow’s game.

This is because with Sparta Praha vs Real Betis kicking off 2 hours earlier, if Sparta lose that match, we will go through to the next round even if we lose our remaining two games. This is because of our better head-to-head record. 

But, with our European coefficient suffering and god they are suffering, because we now carry four serial losers in our European journey, we need to start winning all our remaining games. This is because Scotland will soon lose our fabulous 9.75 points we gained Scotland in the Europa 2019/2020 season, and with 11th place Austria (who are only 1.65 points behind) dropping just 5.8 points for the same 2019/2020 season, I can think you can do the maths.

The big problem is Scotland for this year are 21st in the table for total points gained. The total points is just a mere 18, which is then divided by the five participants to Scotland just 3.6 points for this year’s effort by the five teams playing. The total is shown in the following table.

Rangers          EL          1            2            1            2              1            1            0            7.0        not out

Celtic    CL          0            0            0            0            1            4              4            5.0        eliminated

Aberdeen         ECL       0            1            1            0            2              2            0            2.5        not out

Hibernian          ECL       2            1            3            0            0              0            0            2.5        Eliminated

Hearts FC          ECL       1            0            3            0            0              0            0            1.0        Eliminated

And the problem is many of the 20 countries above us in this year’s tally still have more than half of their teams still active in the three competitions. 

The fact is Rangers need yet another long run in Europe, because if we don’t then the top players who might be thinking of coming to Scotland might think otherwise, because of our rapidly-dropping coefficient.

As we know, tomorrow’s match against Limassol will be tough, they are dangerous on the counter attack, but amongst all the teams we have faced they are the weakest. That is a fact. When pressing, they often play a 3-2-3-2 formation, which though it does permit Limassol to quickly surround a player with the ball, it leaves huge gaps in midfield, which faster, more skillful teams can often take advantage of. Here, just one quick pass across the field, and Limassol often is chasing shadows.

That said, they do know how to quickly get the ball up the park when an opponent’s attack breaks down, and that will give us problems, especially given the fact Goldson cannot play. Souttar was on the bench against Aberdeen, but he is woefully short of match fitness, and I will not be surprised if he is caught napping, if he does play.

In defense Limassol often switch between a 4-4-2 and 5-3-2, with two attackers up front to permit the ball to be played quickly up the field. In attack they will often try to overload the defenders by moving the midfield line up into attack, but as with Beale, this often creates large gaps between the defensive line and the midfield.

Overall, I am sure that Clement is well aware of Limassol’s tactics, and will employ our fast wingers to stretch Limassol, and force them to keep their defensive line deep. With no Goalok in our team thanks to Beale, we are a bit light in attack, and may need our midfield to take some shots from distance to mix things up.

Prediction is a 2-1 win, and a ticket to the next round.

Game on.

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