SC Braga vs Rangers: Preview

By This Is Ibrox
 February 25, 2020

Portugal welcomes back Rangers this Wednesday evening when we face SC Braga in the second leg of the Europa League last thirty-two clash. We take a lead there, albeit slender, but we still go into the tie on top and can look ahead to the ninety minutes and, with a little bit of luck, aim to progress to the next stage of the competition.

Readers of @thisisibrox will have read my opinion last week on how good I believed Braga were and while our performance over the full ninety minutes was pretty up and down, we did create chances against them and in the last thirty minutes really drove on and, of course, managed to get the goals to give us the goal advantage in that 3-2 victory. Who knows how important that Hagi free-kick may be come 7pm on Wednesday night?

From a personnel point of view, the manager will be forced to move things around. With Morelos’s dissent last Thursday resulting in a yellow card, it took the Columbian over the disciplinary threshold and he misses a key tie. Though he’s not on form by any matter of means, we need our big players for these kinds of games, and that means Alfredo Morelos leading the line.

Steven Gerrard must be so frustrated as that yellow card came from petulance and nothing else. However, Florian Kamberi done himself no harm at all with his two recent cameo appearances from the bench – last week at Ibrox and the game on Sunday at Perth where he scored a wonderful goal to get himself off the mark in a blue jersey. He’ll surely start tomorrow night.

Another problem for the manager will be the availability of Borna Barasic at left-back. If he’s fit, and I’d suggest that’s a big ‘if’, then he simply has to play. Isn’t it strange how football has a strange way of your opinions going full one-hundred-and-eighty degrees (Which will bring me to Niko Katic and Ryan Kent shortly)?

Who could possibly have thought that at the start of the season, we’d be in the last thirty-two in Europe, taking a lead to Portugal, looking to the next stage and needing Borna to be fit?! The Croat has been fantastic this season and you’d hope that if he manages to train at all on the run- up to the game that he’d be one of the names on the managers teamsheet.

With Ryan Jack now available after European suspension, and clearly being one of the players that Gerrard trusts, he’ll start in the centre of that traditional three across the middle that we’ve come to expect. With the goal advantage we have, Jack anchoring the midfield and maintaining possession could prove to be hugely important on the night.

Niko Katic and Ryan Kent have come in for some criticism this week, some of it unjust but some of it entirely fair. The concern for the former is that the criticism came from the Boss – in any line of work, you just don’t want to hack off your Boss! The big centre-half had a day to forget at the weekend with too many unforced errors and was at fault for both St.Johnstone goals in my opinion. It was basic stuff as well.

Things you’d expect, almost naturally, your centre-halves to deal with – simply meat and drink. The Croatian found himself out of the team last season and part of this season due to his form having periods of erratic defending, he’ll need to sort himself out for Wednesday night as I’d thoroughly expect him to start alongside Connor Goldson regardless of what happened on Sunday.

I was surprised when I read that Ryan Kent’s assists this year have been so poor. As a player, I like him. What I would say is that for the outlay we spent on him, you would expect more. I actually don’t think he’s been terribly good this season, goal at Celtic Park apart. We do need more, so much more from him. What a good night it would be on Wednesday night for him to arrow one in and fire us into the last sixteen.

Again, he’s one of the ‘go to’ guys and you’d expect him to play.
My team for Wednesday would be McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Katic, Barasic, Jack, Davis, Arfield, Hagi, Kent and Kamberi. I think the only space that could be up for grabs in this XI will be whether or not Steven Gerrard replaces Arfield or Davis with the on-form Joe Aribo.

His confidence must be high after two excellent goals, if he is to play, its one of these two that would drop out for me. I just wonder if Steven Gerrard will rely on the international experience of Steven Davis on the night?
SC Braga’s form continues to be pretty good. They won at the weekend at home, 3-1 against Vitoria de Setubal, currently sitting third in their league behind Benfica and Porto and unbeaten domestically so far this year. I looked ahead to their fixtures after Wednesday and they’ve games against lower

league opposition with Maritimo, Boavista and Portimonense all still to come – I’d expect them to field their strongest available team on Wednesday. Their left-back Nuno Sequeira was injured on Sunday and is a doubt for the tie, the attacking threat that he offered at Ibrox would be a huge boost for us should he miss out.

This is another huge game for Steven Gerrard’s Rangers. But it’s a game we can win. So often this season, we’ve produced gladiator-like performances throughout our European campaign, there is no reason that the tie on Wednesday cannot fall into that same category. We might just be able to pull this off you know.
‘Continue acreditando’

Written by Scott Paterson

@ScottyPaterson6 IG: scotthpaterson

IG: thisisibrox

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