It was all going good for Rangers who knocked PSV out of the playoffs to qualify for the Champions League group stages. But the humiliation against Celtic on Saturday afternoon exposed their frailty in the defensive third before travelling to Amsterdam.
While the Gers must regroup themselves for this European encounter, Ajax have their limitations too after losing an array of renowned names during the summer window. Although they have maintained their sheer supremacy in the Eredivisie, the Champions League football is a different ball game altogether. Rangers, the Europa League runners-up last season, have been exquisite in Europe for quite some time and gaffer Giovanni van Bronckhorst must motivate his men to deliver another determined display shaking off their weekend shambles.
Predicted 4-2-3-1 Rangers Lineup To Face Ajax
Custodian Jon McLaughlin is now ahead of Allan McGregor in the pecking order, but he must not repeat the calamitous mistakes made against their Old Firm rivals.
Skipper James Tavernier needs to focus on his defensive duties against the pacy Steven Bergwijn down the wide. Having said that, the aggressive right fullback should make timely overlapping runs, whip in crosses and link up in the attacking third. Borna Barisic is the preferred choice down the left, whereas James Sands is expected to occupy the central defensive slot alongside Connor Goldson with all other senior centre-halves (John Souttar, Filip Helander and Ben Davies) recovering from their long-standing injury problems.
John Lundstram is irreplaceable in the centre of the pitch, but the Dutch boss has found it difficult to choose his stable ‘double pivot’ partner so far this campaign. Ryan Jack fared well for the majority of the previous term, however, his rough run in midfield forced the manager to deploy other options. Glen Kamara is not comfortable as a ‘number 6’, whereas injured Tom Lawrence is now ruled out for the next few weeks. 37-year-old Steven Davis could be an option though, given his profound experience, sheer commitment and excellent game-reading traits.
Malik Tillman had his moments in the qualifiers and the Bayern Munich loanee should exhibit his creative spark as an attacking midfielder. Ryan Kent has been highly inconsistent of late, yet his flashy skills and dribbling ability make an automatic choice on the left. Scott Wright has improved a lot in recent months and his pace, as well as directness from the right might cause problems in the Ajax backline.
Antonio Colak has emerged as the new ‘number 9’ after helping his side qualify for the Champions League main event. He is likely to lead the line on Wednesday night ahead of Alfredo Morelos.