Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rangers v PSV Eindhoven: Home Comforts?

Ibrox welcomes PSV Eindhoven tomorrow night.

An odd feeling for Rangers. So often reliant on their ability to snatch results in the second leg away from home, Walter Smith’s team need to be on guard against that happening to them tonight.

Can Eindhoven do “a Rangers” on Rangers?

There is, as ever, some debate about what risks Smith will take in a home tie. The answer, as ever, seems to be not too many. A more attack minded 5-4-1 but still likely a fairly defensive 5-4-1.

The stats from the first leg suggest that Eindhoven failed to score from 15 attempts, six of them on target, and enjoyed the majority of the possession.

Seems a bit of a stretch to imagine Rangers will turn those stats around tomorrow. But if they are to progress they need to make an enemy of profligacy and take whatever chances they can create.

The problem is that Rangers European successes in recent years have come from their unwillingness to be beaten. That might not be enough.

Suddenly it is Rangers who are hostages to the away goal.

An added complication comes in the shape of Sunday’s Old Firm league cup final which Smith has said will influence his selection, notably in the return of Steven Naismith who the manager thinks will be unable to play a full part in both games.

Sunday will also make the idea of ninety minutes plus extra time plus penalties (the goalless route) problematic.

So Rangers need to score. And that will call for at least some attacking intent because you can’t hope to get a goal at home with a lone striker playing 30 yards in front of the midfield or by relying on Madjid Bougherra as one your most potent attacking threats.

And, the penalty option not withstanding, Rangers also need to win. And they don’t actually do that very often in Europe of late, Bursapor this season offering their one victory in 20 efforts.

So the odds would seem stacked against Rangers. That seems to have suited them in some of their European adventures of late.

I wouldn’t bet against them. But nor, I think, would I bet on them.

A low scoring game, with Rangers to go out either by the odd goal or on away goals.