The importance of the result on Sunday is a pressure some players may never have experienced before. This time, the performance is secondary, all that matters is that Rangers win the Semi-Final and then go on to lift the trophy. Michael Beale has some huge decisions to make regarding the starting line up with Goldson and Kent back in contention. So where are the key areas he has a decision to make?
Who Partners Connor Goldson?
It’s a given that Goldson automatically comes back into the side considering how Rangers have performed without him defensively. This season has proven that Rangers are a significantly better side defensively when Goldson is in the team and the stats back that up. Seven goals conceded in three games since he’s been out the side, completely unacceptable.
So who lines up beside him? Ben Davies has been his partner for most of the season and they’ve looked solid in the SPFL together. Being left footed he also gives a balance to the defence playing on the left hand side of the duo. He has looked incredibly shaky since his mistake at Parkhead and that has caused his performances to be analysed to an extreme level. He hasn’t covered himself in glory with Goldson but those two have been Beale’s favoured partnership since he arrived.
Should John Souttar keep his place? He was the only player that most fans would give pass marks against Aberdeen and despite his mistake at Parkhead he’s recovered and performed well. He’s a lot more aggressive and powerful than Davies but is that enough for Beale to change his favoured partnership?
Who Starts in the Midfield?
Ryan Jack being out is a huge blow for Rangers as he had been terrific next to Raskin and Cantwell since January. John Lundstram hasn’t managed to recapture the form he displayed in the Europa League last season and has come in for criticism from fans for this.
Glen Kamara has been out of favour so it seems unlikely he would come in, so does Beale play Lundstram in the deeper role or bring in someone like Tillman or Arfield to the midfield and sit Raskin deep?
This all depends on how adventurous Beale wants to be and although Lundstram seems the likely option, sometimes managers like to throw a spanner in the works for these games.
Does Ryan Kent Come Straight Back in?
Kent was miles off it in the game at Parkhead but he’s one of the few players who are capable of creating something from nothing for Rangers. There aren’t any options who would replace him who are as technically good as Kent, sure Sakala’s numbers may be better but he definitely isn’t a better footballer than Ryan Kent.
He’s turned up for Old Firm games before and just because he didn’t for the last one doesn’t mean he should be discounted for this one. Kent has also played almost every minute he’s been available since Beale’s arrival so the manager is clearly a huge fan of his.
It seems likely he will start but Beale still has the option to play Sakala/Matondo out there or even Cantwell if he’s willing to lose him from the middle of the pitch.
There are massive decisions to be made in this team selection and how Rangers set themselves up. How do you think Rangers should line up in terms of player selection and style?