Michael Beale’s pre-match press conference revealed some details that makes deciding the Rangers starting eleven tomorrow significantly easier. The manager revealed that Ridvan would miss out through injury, picking up a strain in training yesterday. You can read more of the managers thoughts here.
He also confirmed that Fashion Sakala, Glen Kamara and Ben Davies would not be involved tomorrow. The latter was also left out of the Champions League squad, could he be joining Sakala and Kamara is heading for the exit door?
José Cifuentes and Connor Goldson were confirmed to be involved in the squad, which is news which is sure to excite the fans. With the team news out of the way, let’s look at my predicted line up;
Jack Butland – An easy choice to start off with. Probably the highest profile signing this summer and one I was delighted about.
He arrives with great experience and looks like the sweeper keeper Rangers have wanted for years.
RB – James Tavernier – Club captain is always going to be one of the first names on the team sheet. He had a ridiculous 25 goal contributions in 38 Premiership appearances last season, can he do the same again?
RCB – Connor Goldson – If he’s fit enough, the Englishman has to come straight back in. He controls and organises the defence superbly and you can feel his missing presence when he’s out the side.
If he’s fit, he should play.
LCB – John Souttar – Another easy choice, for me. I genuinely find it difficult to decide who’s better out of Souttar and Goldson. The Scotland international offers so much on the ball while being solid defensively.
He ended last season strongly and was one of the few to have an impressive preseason. He has to be in the side when he’s fit.
LB – Borna Barisic – Unfortunately Ridvan is injured (again) so he seems the only option. I would like to see Dujon Sterling here but am unsure if he’s fit enough.
This is a game where his delivery from out wide and set pieces could be key in getting a result. Let’s just hope he does the job defensively also.
CDM – Ryan Jack – I’d imagine Michael Beale will stick to a 4312 diamond shape with a 6 and two 8s behind the 10. With this assumption, if he’s fit enough, I think Ryan Jack has to start. He covers the pitch so well, particularly when the full backs get forward so there’s little chance of being hit on the counter.
He keeps the ball very well and organises the team from the midfield expertly. I think he’ll see less game time this year with the signing of Cifuentes but I don’t see the Ecuadorian getting a start today so Jack should get the nod, in my opinion.
RCM – Nico Raskin – Raskin had an incredible cameo against Newcastle at Ibrox and ended the season strongly. He has the potential to be a key player for Rangers this season. He does everything well and is very intelligent with his position. In the tackle he’s tough and tenacious and won’t give the opposition midfielders room to breathe.
He’s key in Rangers press and breaking through the oppositions blocks. Raskin is one of the few players in the team capable of firing those passes through the opposition midfield to get the team up the pitch. I’m excited to see how his partnership with Cantwell flourishes on the pitch as the two are clearly great friends off of it.
LCM – Todd Cantwell – The star man from the end of last season, he ended the 22/23 campaign as one of the most inform players in the league playing in that free role behind the forwards. He scored 4 in 5 in the split matches last season and ended with 6 goals and 4 assists in 16 appearances. He found his form again and seems to be loving life at Rangers.
The question on him will be, can he be as effective playing deeper? Sam Lammers has occupied the 10 role throughout preseason and looked excellent, I think he and Cantwell could play well off of each other. Time will tell how the deeper role affects Cantwell’s impact on the game though.
CAM – Sam Lammers – The Dutchman looked excellent in this position in preseason so should keep his spot there. He picks up excellent positions and drops in to space to receive the ball then go and link with his team mates. Technically, he’s looked brilliant and it will be interesting to see how he fares in a physical match on a plastic pitch.
I think Lammers will be a key player for Rangers this season and will show that from today.
ST – Cyriel Dessers – Dessers will act more as a ‘target man’ up top, although that’s not all he has in his locker. He’s strong and powerful but also very capable of being defenders on the turn. He uses his body very similarly to Morelos to create space and chances for himself.
He’s perfect for this type of tough game as he gives an option to clear it up to, if needed. He’s a strong finisher with both feet and could thrive in front of the creative players Rangers now have at their disposal.
ST – Danilo – The Brazilian striker is a proper old school fox in the box. He spends a lot of his time and takes most of his shots from inside of 18-yards.
That’s not all he’s capable of though. He’s scored more than a few screamers from distance in The Netherlands. He also links up play very well and will look for short, sharp interchanges with his team mates to help create chances.
He’ll make runs into the channel to split the defence and I think he’ll pair very well with Dessers.
Read more of my thoughts on the front three here.
This is the most confident I’ve felt going into a season in years. The investment was there this summer and the profile of players signed was very exciting.
The options off the bench are improved as well with the likes of Sterling, Cifuentes, Dowell and Sima.
Away to Rugby Park is always a tough start so the main thing is the three points. A dominating performance filled with goals would be ideal but that’s not how these games have gone in recent seasons. Three points is the most important thing.
How are you feeling about this season and todays game? Do you agree with my line-up? Who are you most excited to see out there today?