Rangers Spartak Moscow Europa League Tactical Preview

Rangers open their season today at 1 pm with a match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Both sides have had positive results in their European matches, despite the extra time defeat Aberdeen suffered against Burnley. Rangers had a great record last season against Aberdeen, picking up 10 out of 12 points available. That wasn’t enough to finish ahead of them in the league, however. Gerrard and the team will be looking to make a statement with a strong win against the side which has finished 2nd in the league for 4 seasons in a row.

ABERDEEN TRANSFERS AND TEAM NEWS

Aberdeen will be without the suspended Shay Logan for the season opener. Mark Reynolds, Frank Ross and Greg Tansey are all injured. Sam Cosgrove, Tommie Hoban, and Niall McGinn were described as “struggling to be fit”, but at the time of writing, there’s no definitive update.

In terms of transfers, Aberdeen have lost a number of players from last season. Kenny McLean has moved to Norwich, with Ryan Christie going back to Celtic. Anthony O’Connor left the club, as did Adam Rooney and Kari Arnason. They have loaned Dominic Ball for another season and brought in Lewis Ferguson from Hamilton. Gleeson, Forrester and Hoban all came in from teams in England, and Cerny was signed from Partick Thistle to offer goalkeeping competition.

In the matches against Burnley, Aberdeen played a 4-1-4-1 formation. Sam Cosgrove started up front, with Dom Ball and Tommie Hoban playing the role in front of the defence. Devlin and McKenna have been the centre-halves, and Mackay-Steven played on the right wing. Captain Graeme Shinnie retains his role in central midfield.

It’s often difficult to predict the team McInnes will play when up against Rangers. He’s been prone to making unexpected changes in the past. With the number of injuries and two good performances against Burnley, I don’t think there’ll be much he can change. Injuries and suspensions will force some, but their squad isn’t as deep at the moment as it used to be.

RANGERS TEAM NEWS

Rangers will be without Wallace, Dorrans, Rossiter, and John through injury. That aside, no new injuries were reported from the game against Osijek on Thursday. Steven Gerrard hinted at some changes to add energy to the team. The back 4 will be the same, but I think we’ll see 2 changes overall. I predict Scott Arfield will be brought in for Ovie Ejaria, and Jamie Murphy for Daniel Candeias.

PREDICTED STARTING LINE UP

McGregor

Tavernier
Goldson
Katic
Flanagan

Coulibaly
Jack
Arfield

Murphy
Morelos
Kent

With the game against Maribor to consider as well, Rangers will look to the bench. Options such as Windass, Sadiq and Candeias will offer real threat and pace later in the match. Ryan Jack will be determined to continue his good form against his old club. Alfredo Morelos has been looking sharp in the last few matches. Aberdeen won’t be as strong as they can be in the full back areas, so Kent and Murphy (if they start) could be key.

MATCH PREDICTIONS

Aberdeen didn’t have an ideal pre-season. They’ve also struggled to replace a number of players who were regulars for them in recent seasons. None of that held them back from playing very well against Burnley. Those extra 30 minutes, and the defeat may have a bearing as the game goes on.

It’s never an easy match for Rangers at Pittodrie, but the recent record there is pretty strong. I think Aberdeen will look to start quickly and try to get something to defend. I predict that Rangers will stand up to that, and win the game 2-0 with a solid performance.

How do you see the match going? Tweet us @abouttherangers with your thoughts!