This line-up prediction was made infinitely easier for me the moment Ianis Hagi was announced to be out of the squad. It was a huge shock, for me at least, and could signify the end of his Ranger career.
So, let’s look at my predicted line-up for tonight.
GK – Jack Butland – Butland keeps his place in the goal, he may have conceded four this season but he’s not had much chance with any of them. He looks to be one of the better summer signings so far.
RB – James Tavernier – Dujon Sterling didn’t offer much going forward on Saturday and Rangers will need that attacking full back threat tonight. That means club captain James Tavernier comes straight back in for me.
CBs – Connor Goldson & John Souttar – Goldson and Souttar are Rangers two best centre backs, in my opinion. Souttar got caught under the ball against Servette last week which led to a goal. He needs to cut out these kind of mistakes if he’s to be the first choice next to Goldson for the rest of the season.
LB – Borna Barisic – Barisic comes back in for the exact same reasons as Tavernier. Despite his defensive shortcomings he’s a threat from open play and dead balls.
CDM – Ryan Jack – Ryan Jack had a performance that went under the radar last week and accumulated 13 recoveries. He controls the midfield from the base and helps cover the full backs when they maraud forward.
He offers more defensive stability than anyone else that plays the 6 at the club.
RCM – José Cifuentes – Cifu has really impressed me since he moved to the club. I’d been excited about his arrival for weeks and he’s exactly the player I anticipated.
High energy, great defensive work ethic and confidence to drive forward with the ball. The pressing of Raskin and Cifuentes could be key to Rangers getting a foothold in the game.
LCM – Nico Raskin – Nico Raskin was superb for 45 minutes in Geneva. He covered every blade of grass and pressed incredibly well. In this tie though, he’ll have to do it for the entire match.
CAM – Todd Cantwell – Todd Cantwell should play at the 10. I originally wanted to see Hagi there but his shock omission from the squad meant I didn’t have to leave out Raskin/Cifu.
Cantwell has done some of his best work at Rangers from just behind the front two and the club needs all their danger men firing to get through here.
ST – Sam Lammers – I keep hoping the Sam Lammers of preseason will show up and it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps moving him further forward could help?
His ability to control the ball and hold it up may be key in Rangers keeping possession in forward areas. I feel like the more he plays with Cantwell they could really strike up a fun and exciting partnership.
Can he put his former club to the sword?
ST – Danilo – Danilo got his second goal in three games on Saturday and I believe he should start. He’s getting goals despite still not playing at his best. His effort in the press will help keep the pressure on PSV.
He also knows most of the team very well from last season. Can the Brazilian make it three goals in four games?
This leaves a strong bench with the likes of Dessers, Matondo and Sima as attacking options. The pace of Matondo and Sima off the bench may be used later in the game as the PSV defence tire.
Who would be in your starting line-up? Would you keep Matondo in from the start? Where should Cantwell play?
You can read the managers pre-match press conference comments here.
ICYMI read our piece on Todd Cantwell’s importance here.