Premiership giants Rangers will be looking to continue their blistering run of form in Europe when they take on Portuguese heavyweights Benfica this Thursday evening. The Ibrox club are coming into this tie on the back of a narrow 1-0 victory against Kilmarnock on the weekend, prior to which they beat Lech Poznań by an identical scoreline. Both Rangers and Benfica have two wins from two games in the group stage so far, which means that the winner of this tie would be able to go into the international break with an advantage.
The Portuguese giants are without a couple of important players due to injury, and the recent defeat by Boavista is sure to play on the mind of the manager when he decides his team as well. The most important absentee is centre-half Alex Grimaldo, whose ankle knock means that he is unavailable for selection. Andre Almeida’s ACL issue means that he is not going to play any part, while former Barcelona man Jean-Clair Todibo is not in the selection picture either.
Predicted XI: Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Tavares; Pizzi, Pires, Taarabt, Everton; Waldschmidt, Nunez
The Ibrox club don’t have too many injury concerns to deal with at this point in time, with central defender Nikola Katic the only long term absentee. The likes of Ryan Jack, Brandon Barker, Borna Barisic and Joe Aribo have all returned to full fitness over the last number of weeks, leaving Gerrard with a rather strong roster to choose his eleven from. The only real issue that Rangers are currently facing has to be the recent suspensions to Jordan Jones and George Edmundson. The pair have been suspended and put into isolation by the club after they were found partying while breaking COVID-19 guidelines.
Predicted XI: McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Balogun, Barisic; Jack, Kamara, Aribo; Hagi, Morelos, Kent
Here Is The Benfica Vs Rangers Tactical Preview:
Benfica Vs Rangers Tactical Preview
Benfica are one of Europe’s most renowned clubs, and the pedigree that they possess does translate to quality on the pitch as well. One of their biggest selling points is the sheer amount of pace they have to offer on the counter-attack. The likes of Nunez and Everton are extremely fast, and this is a team that knows how to use that pace well. The Rangers back-line are surely going to face their biggest challenge of the season so far, while Benfica’s defence has a habit of pushing forward as an attack develops.
Benfica aren’t the kind of team that will sit deep with a low block and try to frustrate the Scottish league leaders. Rangers, hence, should be wary of the threat that they possess in the final third. The likes of Goldson and Tavernier will have to be completely concentrated for the entire ninety, as a single slip-up will be enough for the Portuguese side to punish them. Morelos will surely have opportunities to run in behind the Benfica back-line, and it is of utmost importance that they take any chances that come their way.
For all the quality that Benfica boast in the final third of the pitch, it must be conceded that Pizzi is, more often than not, their biggest attacking catalyst. An excellent dribbler and passer of the ball, the Portuguese winger is sure to have a key role to play.
As much as Steven Gerrard’s men would want to pick up all three points against the team that are favourites to win the group, it’s unlikely that they’ll have a free run. To that end, it could actually be Connor Goldson who has the biggest part to play. He will have to command the back-line, while maintaining his own defensive concentration along the way as well.
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