After yesterday’s 2-0 win at Hillsborough over Sheffield Wednesday, pre-season is now over for Pedro Caixinha’s side with the league opener just six days away. The trip to Fir Park to take on Motherwell will be the first competitive action for some of Rangers’ summer signings since moving to Scotland and will be a big indicator if, like last season, the league campaign is going to be over before it ever really got started. So, just how will Rangers line up when they take to the pitch at Fir Park?
The last few friendlies have seen Rangers use a 4-4-2 and it looks as though that’ll be the formation used going forward; there have also been brief glimpses of a three-man central defence but 4-4-2 appears to be the preference for now.
Wes Foderingham will undoubtedly retain his place as number one. The ex-Swindon keeper has barely put a foot wrong since joining the club in 2015 and has arguably been Rangers best performer over the last 18 months. Jak Alnwick has shown glimpses of his ability and should make a trusted back-up.
In defence, the back four arguably picks itself in James Tavernier, Fabio Cardoso, Bruno Alves & Lee Wallace. The central pairing of Alves and Cardoso seem to have quickly built a good understanding together with Cardoso looking much more comfortable than he did alongside David Bates in the Progres games. Both full-backs (Wallace & Tavernier) will be an important part of Rangers’ attacking play, as well as fulfilling their defensive responsibilities, and both Wallace and Tavernier have shown they are more than capable of being a threat at the other end of the pitch.
Further ahead, Ryan Jack and Graham Dorrans have put in two really impressive displays over the last week and, while it’s only friendlies, it bodes well for the coming season. Jack, in particular, looks as though he’s been part of that midfield for years and has added a composed head to a midfield that far too often was all over the place last year. Another summer will almost certainly take up the wide right spot with Daniel Candeias winning over early doubters to show he can be a real asset to Caixinha’sside this season with his technical ability but it’s on the other side where the biggest question mark remains. Niko Kranjcar has been spoken about as Caixinha’s “quarterback” but it’s Josh Windass who came away from Hillsborough with the plaudits, forcing the Croatian to spend most of the game on the bench although Kranjcar will probably get the nod ahead of Windass next weekend and give Rangers a creative outlet in midfield; despite being 33 soon and it’s clear that he’s lost none of the ability that saw him make over 150 Premier League appearances. With Carlos Pena still to find his fitness and Jordan Rossiter most recently involved with Graeme Murty’s U20 side, there’s plenty of depth in midfield should Caixinha decide todo something a little bit different.
The big question over the frontline is who partners Eduardo Herrera? Kenny Miller or Alfredo Morelos. Everyone knows what Miller is capable of; just see his goal against Sheffield Wednesday, but at 37 he’s not the type of player we can rely on to cover every blade of grass trying to set up teammates. With a strong partner, Miller should be good for another season at least although Colombian youth international Morelos comes with a decent pedigree and a knack of scoring goals.
Is this the team that will start at Fir Park?
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