Rangers vs USG: How the 'Gers' Can Overcome First Leg Disappointment

Following last season's 2nd placed finish, Rangers knew that as well as missing out on the title, they would also have to go through the rigorous process of qualifying for the Champions League Groupstage via the knockout rounds.

[Image: Perry van de Leuvert/NESImages/DeFodi Images]

Rangers entered the Champions League qualification in the 3rd round and were drawn against Belgian side Royale Union Saint Gilloise. The fallen giants of Belgian football were previously largely unknown to many Scottish football fans, but have enjoyed a dramatic resurgence in recent years - going from the 2nd tier of Belgian football to title challengers last season - only missing out due to the playoff system.

This means that despite perhaps some initial ignorance, USG are a very solid opponent, with the club run on a model based on stats and data to get the most out of the players at their disposal.

So, Giovanni Van Bronkhorst's side headed out to Brussels for the first leg last Tuesday full of optimism, but this would be short-lived. Rangers found themselves behind after 27 minutes before a controversial penalty decision compounded their misery 14 minutes from time. USG ran out comfortable 2-0 winners against a sluggish Rangers who never really got going.

If the 'Gers' plan on making it to the Groupstage of the Champions League, they will need to be much better tonight - with a playoff against the winner of PSV vs Monaco up for grabs.

What can Rangers do to progress to the next round?

Well, first of all, they could start by getting Antonio Colak more involved. The Croatian Marksman scored his first goal in Rangers colours in the 2-0 win over Kilmarnock, and fans will be hoping that is a sign of things to come.

In the first leg, Colak was nowhere near involved enough - leaving Rangers with a lack of a focal point up front, resulting in little attaching threat or attacking intent. If they want to win tonight, whoever is upfront - be that Morelos who is now back from his lengthy injury setback - or Colak, they will need to ask a lot more questions of the USG defence.

[Morelos returns to action - Image: Alan Harvey/SNS Group]

This way Rangers can play on the front foot and dictate the game the way they want to, rather than being forced into long balls and recycling possession due to a lack of fluidity up top. The Colombian has scored 29 European goals for Rangers to date and Rangers look a completely different side with him in it.

The home side also need to score fairly early. If Rangers can grab an early lead with a packed Ibrox behind them, then they will be able to pile the pressure on USG and take the game to them - which could see yet another landslide European victory at Ibrox.

One man who will be able to help Rangers up front today will be Ryan Kent. The Englishman missed last week's first leg but is back in the squad for this one. He has been Rangers talisman in Europe time after time and will offer creativity and a goalscoring threat in the final third that was desperately lacking last week, and should he get firing will be like a new signing.

Overall, GVB needs to pick the right starting 11 and system to tackle USG tonight. Rangers have to win by 2 goals to take the game to penalties, or 3 to win it outright which is a big task against a decent outfit, however, it is far from impossible - with the Belgian side actually losing their most recent league fixture 3-0 away to KV Mechelen, despite only making 3 changes from the Rangers game.

If Rangers can reach their top level and play fluid attacking, intense football then they should be able to overcome USG. It will not be easy, in fact, it will likely be far from it, but with a packed Ibrox behind them, key players returning and some improved performances, they could make it to the final round of Champions League qualification.


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