Premiership leaders Rangers will be looking to continue their excellent run of form across all competitions when they welcome Portuguese heavyweights Benfica to the Ibrox Stadium later this week. The result of the match scheduled for Thursday could have massive implications on the table itself, with both the involved teams boasting the same points tally in terms of the group table. Although Rangers currently find themselves in first place on the charts, it must be conceded that they are there only by the virtue of a superior goal difference.
Rangers’ most recent Europa League clash was also against Benfica, where despite having a commanding 3-1 lead, they let it slip and allowed the home side to come back within the final 15 minutes of the match. Had they managed to see out the victory on that evening, Steven Gerrard’s side would now be the outright leaders of Group D. However, they will take motivation from the fact that their last two league games have both ended in clean sheets, with a whopping 12 goals being scored by the attackers either side of the international break.
As far as injuries go, Rangers don’t have too many players to be concerned about at this point in time. The only long-term absence is that of Nikola Katic, with the defender having been missing since the start of the current Premiership season. Apart from him, George Edmundson and Jordan Jones have been handed bans for breaking the strict COVID-19 guidelines that the club had in place. What this means is that the aforementioned duo are not going to play any part in this fixture either. Apart from these, Steven Gerrard has a full-strength roster to choose his eleven from. Summer signing Bongani Zungu has also been declared as a doubt for Thursday.
Here Is The Predicted 4-3-3 Rangers Lineup Vs Benfica:
Predicted 4-3-3 Rangers Lineup Vs Benfica
Although Gerrard has conceded that Jon McLaughlin will be handed his fair share of opportunities over the course of the season, this looks like a fixture that requires them to start first-choice keeper Allan McGregor in between the sticks. Benfica are one of the biggest teams in Europe, and having quality in goal is undoubtedly of the essence. In front of him, expect to see Filip Helander returning to the eleven, alongside the assured presence of Connor Goldson. James Tavernier and Borna Barisic are likely to continue in the full-back roles, as is generally expected.
This match is one that promises to be a much harder affair than some of the fixtures they’ve had to deal with in the league. Considering how good Benfica are, Gerrard could be tempted to load up the midfield, as he did in the reverse fixture in Portugal. Ryan Jack is likely to continue as the midfield anchor, acting as the main link between the Gers’ defence and attack lines. Glen Kamara is expected to start alongside the Scot, and the Finnish ace will be tasked with the job of being combative in the engine room. Steven Davis’ passing and general finesse will be put to use on Jack’s other side as well.
Alfredo Morelos started the Gers’ most recent league outing, and despite them picking up a rather comfortable win, the Colombian’s display could only be described as poor. He looked visibly frustrated when he was substituted, which means that Kemar Roofe is likely to lead the line for this vital European encounter. Ryan Kent is the one player in the Rangers team whose place hasn’t been under scrutiny. The Englishman should continue in the left flank, with Nigerian attacker Joe Aribo taking up the role of a makeshift winger over on the other side.