Rangers face Osijek in the first leg of the Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round tonight. Debuts for new players are expected, and Steven Gerrard has challenged the side to improve from their last performance. Osijek have had some good results in Europe in recent years. Despite injuries to key players, they’ll be confident they can win at home.
OSIJEK TEAM NEWS
The Croatian side qualified by beating Petrocub 3-2 on aggregate. However, they have injuries to key players and have also signed two new defenders since then. Striker Gabrijel Boban is unavailable for both legs, and Eros Grezda is a long-term absentee. They have loaned in Ezekiel Henty, described as the Nigerian Lukaku. Whilst he normally plays on the left, it would seem he’ll be up front in this match.
One player to look out for will be Borna Barisic. The left-back made the provisional squad for Croatia but was cut from the final 23 for the World Cup. He’s an attacking full-back with pace and a real set piece threat.
Osijek played something of a 4-4-2 in their last match. With the injury to their star striker, they may look to change that. In defence, they lost key players from last season, and have two young centre-halves. They play an attacking style, look to press the game, and will be looking to win the game and take a lead to Ibrox.
RANGERS RUMOURED TEAM
New signings Lassana Coulibaly and Ryan Kent traveled with the squad, and both are rumoured to be starting the match. Umar Sadiq was considered not fit enough yet to be involved but is registered to play if required in the home leg. Scott Arfield was unable to recover from his knock but should be fine for the second leg. Jordan Rossiter remains out with injury at this time.
Rumours of the starting line-up have been in the media, and are suggesting it will be as follows:
The changes mean that 7 players, who weren’t with the club last season, are starting the match. Very quickly, Gerrard is putting a stamp on this team. The games against Shkupi saw loads of chances created, but poor finishing. In the away leg, the midfield was a bit loose in their possession play. The players being brought in are looking to improve all of that.
This one is difficult to call. There are unknowns in both teams, and Rangers may approach the game looking to keep it tight. I believe this game will be quite a nervous one for both sides and will finish a 1-1 draw.