Rangers were all over the place in the Netherlands when they clashed heads with PSV in the decisive Champions League playoff fixture. A 5-1 defeat has shattered many dreams, but the Light Blues must bounce back in the season’s first Old Firm derby against bitter rivals Celtic.
The Bhoys are having a hard time due to form and fitness reasons. They are already knocked out from the League Cup, and a stalemate last weekend versus St Johnstone has put them under further pressure ahead of travelling to Ibrox. Their decimated defensive line has been patched by roping in Nat Phillips on loan from Liverpool, however, it remains to be seen who gets the last laugh in a battle of sheer passion, grit and aggression on Sunday afternoon.
Predicted 4-3-1-2 Rangers Lineup To Face Celtic
Despite conceding five goals on Wednesday night, Jack Butland should continue as the Gers ‘number 1’ ahead of Robby McCrorie.
Skipper James Tavernier has maintained his supremacy down the right with goals, assists and marauding runs. Yet he needs to concentrate more on his defensive responsibilities in this end-to-end encounter. Connor Goldson and John Souttar must continue as the central defensive pairing, but a selection dilemma down the left could see Michael Beale opting for Dujon Sterling. An injury sustained against PSV is likely to sideline Borna Barisic until the international break. Also, his understudy Ridvan Yilmaz is still working on regaining match fitness following months of injury absence.
Ryan Jack must return to the starting XI as his absence was felt against the fast-moving Dutch hotshots. He should replace John Lundstram in the middle of the park, but the gaffer is expected to rely on Nicolas Raskin and Jose Cifuentes as the box-to-box options. Their work rate and down-the-middle runs might make the difference in a gruelling midfield battle. Kieran Dowell remains a doubt after missing the PSV game with a knock.
Rangers have parted ways with Ianis Hagi, but they still have ample options who fit the profile of a ‘number 10’. Tom Lawrence is back from his injury nightmare and the summer signing Sam Lammers is also being deployed as a midfield attacker. Nevertheless, the Light Blues boss should stick with Todd Cantwell in spite of a difficult run of form so far this campaign.
In-form Rabbi Matondo must feature high up the pitch and partner with Cyriel Dessers who offers more directness as a centre-forward. Kemar Roofe, Danilo and Abdallah Sima might get involved at some stage in the second half.