Tonight marks a huge occasion for Steven Davis as he steps out as Rangers manager for the first time. He may only be the caretaker but the Northern Irish will be keen to impress and show he has what it takes to potentially be in this position again in the future. Rangers have started the group well with a terrific 1-0 win at Ibrox against favourites Real Betis.
An away win in Cyprus would put the club in an excellent position to get European football beyond Christmas. Despite Aris Limassol being favourites for the wooden spoon they are no mugs and, particularly in Cyprus, are capable of causing Rangers problems.
Considering the situation, the club can’t afford to underestimate any opponents, especially not in Europe. I predict Davis will go with a 433/4231, a formation favoured in the 55 title winning season. Here is the team I predict he will pick for this evening.
GK – Jack Butland – Unless some horrible luck strikes and he gets injured, he should play every game. One of the few who have been willing to stand up and shown some passion recently.
RB – James Tavernier – He needs to stand up and be a captain. He needs to help Davis rally the team round and motivate them to perform, that’s what a captains duty is.
CBs – Connor Goldson & Ben Davies – Horror show on Saturday aside, they’ve been great since being reunited. Hopefully that performance was just a blip and they can carry on the form previous to that.
LB – Borna Barisic – The only real option with Ridvan not in the squad. The Croatian has been rested for the last two so should be really fresh coming into the game.
CM – Ryan Jack – Mr 7/10 could start tonight with Raskin still not fully fit. You know what you get with Ryan Jack. A midfielder who reads the game well and makes sure the team keeps it. He could vital away in Cyprus this evening with his calming presence in the middle.
CM – John Lundstram – One of the few players who can genuinely say they’ve put in 100% this season. He’s looked more like the Lundstram from the EL run and it’s great to see. Hopefully that form carries on and he continues to drive the team forward from the middle of the pitch.
CM – José Cifuentes – There’s a player in Cifuentes and I’ll say it till I’m blue in the face. Working under someone like Davis can only help his development, especially when it comes to decision making.
With Raskin coming back it’s a huge night for him to show why he deserves a place in the team.
RW – Sam Lammers – Lammers has to start providing numbers, it’s as simple as that. Technically, at times, he looks good but there’s been no consistency with it. Rangers can’t afford to have a player have 8 shots and score none like he did at Motherwell.
The jury is still very much out and adding goals/assists could be the only way to alleviate any doubts the fans have.
ST – Kemar Roofe – If he’s fit enough then I’d imagine he will play. Davis knows what he’s capable of having played with him in the 55 season. It’s fair to say he’s not been at his best but he’s easily the best finisher at the club and this team needs goals.
LW – Abdallah Sima – Since he’s been put out on the wing, Sima has looked dangerous and has started adding numbers to his game. He’s scored 3 in his last 4 appearances (if the Betis goal truly was his) and he’s been Rangers biggest threat in recent weeks.
His pace in behind could be key in what is sure to be a stuffy affair. The home fans will undoubtedly create an intense atmosphere and Rangers need to be ready for that.
This is a huge night for Rangers and Steven Davis. A win puts the club in an excellent position to remain in Europe beyond Christmas. The fans also really need a win, considering the start to the season, the morale amongst the support is pretty low.
A European away win would go a long way in helping to perk up the mood amongst the fans. Financially, Rangers really need to stay in Europe beyond Christmas, especially considering the loss from not making the Champions League.
How confident are you for tonight? Do you think Davis can rally the team and motivate them to victory?
ICYMI you can read our article on potential managerial candidate Philippe Clement here.
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