The case for optimism ahead of Rangers’ PSV Champions League return


The case for optimism ahead of Rangers’ PSV Champions League return

As the dust settles on RangersChampions League playoff draw with PSV Eindhoven, there has been some lingering negativity in the Ibrox support.

If the prestige of qualifying for the Champions League group stages hadn’t heaped pressure on the players, or the reported £40m that comes with it, the bleating Ibrox voices certainly have.

This was a solid result against a good team and the tie is almost certainly still on the line at 2-2 but there are plenty of voices in the support negatively and cathartically taking their frustrations out on the team.

Everyone is in the firing line and it’ll only get worse if Rangers don’t quality – whether fans want to admit it or not any pressure around the money and prestige involved is multiplied by Celtic’s automatic qualification – but before we all throw the toys out the pram we want to put forward the case for optimism.

Here’s three reasons why this Champions League tie isn’t over and why this Rangers side can go to PSV Eindhoven and get the result we are all so desperately craving.

Rangers’ Malik Tillman and Ryan Kent not at their best in PSV first leg

Even though it’s widely accepted that Rangers showed a strong level of tactical discipline in the match and fluffed their lines from corners against PSV, two keys players didn’t hit top form.

Ryan Kent is a talismanic presence in European football for Rangers and struggled against Jordan Teze in what was an enthralling contest throughout.

Malik Tillman – the form player at Ibrox – was also wasteful at times and didn’t show the kind of quality decision-making that fans are becoming accustomed to.

Photo by ANP via Getty Images

And yet, both players played influential roles and were involved in the match so for nervous supporters the prospect of them both hitting top gear in the Netherlands should surely be an positive one.

Ryan Kent has done it before on the road in Europe, scoring in the 1-0 win over Braga and 2-1 defeat to Red Star Belgrade.

Ben Davies becoming an option at centre-back

Whilst James Sands certainly played well enough for Rangers in this match, the USA international has been something of a scapegoat for criticism amid those set piece goals.

His height has come into question – even via Super Ally who called for the return of Leon Balogun – and the defensive midfielder probably can’t win at centre back for Rangers.

Whilst we still believe Sands is very much in the running to start in Eindhoven, there’s a 6ft2 centre-back who cost £4m in Ben Davies surely nearing fitness for more starting berths.

Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images

The Scottish Premiership clash against Hibernian may be a chance to get more minutes in the big man’s legs and those apparent height issues at centre-back may be dispelled by Davies’ inclusion.

Alfredo Morelos

In keeping with the junior fall-out we’ve had after the game, Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst was asked why he never subbed on Alfredo Morelos for Antonio Colak.

The Colombian is coming back after five months out and there’s no doubt fans are eager to see him back in the squad and back firing ASAP.

But the human body never mind football doesn’t work like that and it could be a little while before we see the best of Alfie yet.

Not only that, but Antonio Colak – who scored his 4th goal in as many games in the match – isn’t being properly recognised for his contribution.

Photo by Roddy Scott/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The Croatian was probably most people’s Man of the Match and whilst Morelos never seen the pitch in the first leg, more time, and hopefully more minutes v Hibs, mean we can expect to call on El Bufalo at least from the bench in the return.

It’s firepower we’ve yet to see in the tie and with every passing day Morelos is getting fitter and stronger.

Read more about why one struggling Premier League club will be praying Rangers can overcome PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League Playoff.