After finally (two years too late) disposing of Progres last week and an exciting, if also late, win over Kilmarnock on Sunday, Rangers return to European action tonight in Denmark.
This time we face FC Midtjylland whom are an unknown quantity for most Rangers fans with only former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko familiar to the majority of us. However, the Danes are well experienced in the competition in recent years - even if they've only reached the group stage once, qualifying as well before being knocked out by eventual finalists Liverpool in the last 32 in 2015/16. They've shared the last five domestic league titles with Copenhagen and are joint top with them in the Danish Superliga right now after four league matches. Suffice to say, this is no gimme.
Fortunately, Rangers have had a good summer as well so can be confident in the tie. Although we've been less than convincing in our last few competitive games, we can take confidence from knocking out Progres very comfortably and also beating Killie on an awful pitch, despite losing a goal with just ten mins to go. Indeed, given set pieces are one of Midtjylland's biggest strengths, that may be a slight concern ahead of tonight's game in particular.
With that in mind, Steven Gerrard's team selection will be interesting, especially in defence. Both Niko Katic and Connor Goldson have been key players in an attacking sense of late but, despite being fairly solid defensively in a general sense, both have had their dodgy moments as well. Goldson, in particular, misjudged the flight of free kick that led to Sunday's equaliser - an error we can ill-afford tonight. With other options such as Edmundson (he was a very late sub on Sunday) and Helander (perhaps still not match fit), it's not beyond the realms of possibility we may see a back three this evening. Full/wing back roles should again be taken by Tavernier and Barisic, even if both have struggled for form in recent weeks.
Live Podcast this Sunday
This Sunday at 9.30pm we'll have another Gersnet Podcast live on Youtube. Don't miss it and remember you can take part via the chat facility!
Our midfield balance will also be important this evening, especially after a poor second half contribution from Sunday's selected three. Davis, Jack and Aribo have all done very well through July's friendlies and other qualifiers but none of the three were particularly effective against Kilmarnock. The same can be said for Ojo and Arfield in the attacking roles but the latter should find it easier to find space against the Danes. Ojo may well be replaced by someone like Docherty in favour of his drive and bob-to-box nature of his play. Others such as Glen Kamara, Jordan Jones and Greg Stewart will also be keen to step in if called upon. One does wonder if Gerrard may move back to a 4-2-3-1 but that may mean sacrificing one of our playmakers?
In attack (and barring any late transfer movement), Alfredo Morelos should lead the line tonight and will been keen to get scoring again if selected. The Colombian lacked decent service for much of the last two games but will hope his experience of the Scandinavian leagues is useful this evening. It's crucial that when we create any chances, we take them as an away goal could be vital in a tie that looks very hard to call.
For the winners, a play-off round awaits in either Poland or Greece with the associated essential monies the group stage can yield. Given Rangers' continuing legal issues with restrictive retail deals and our nearest rivals selling players for £25m then such a reward cannot be underestimated. One by one all the hurdles are becoming bigger so let's hope we're all walking with a spring in our step later tonight.
Possible XI (4-3-2-1):
Discuss this article
Enjoyed this analysis? Disagree entirely? Found a spelling mistake? Whatever your opinion, it's welcome on our popular and friendly message-board.