Shades of Italian stallion’s legendary Chelsea stint as Dutchman makes Rangers dream
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Shades of legendary Chelsea season as GVB makes Rangers dream

As Rangers prepare to face RB Leipzig in the Europa League semi-finals, some fans might draw parallels with the Chelsea and Roberto di Matteo team of 2012.

Back then, the Italian took over as caretaker of Chelsea after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas and led them to both the FA Cup and Champions League finals.

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Without tempting fate, the rest is history.

With the league all but abandoned that campaign – Chelsea finished 6th – it stands as one of the most legendary in Stamford Bridge history and for it, Roberto di Matteo remains a legend as a player and manager.

Similarly, Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst came in mid-season to a team somewhat struggling and is an ex-player for the club.

Whilst van Bronckhorst wasn’t already at Rangers – di Matteo had been working in the coaching set-up at Chelsea – there’s an immediate parallel between the player/manager relationship with the side.

But it’s the immense – and surprising – progress in Europe that mostly has some drawing similarities.

Shades of Roberto di Matteo Chelsea team in van Bronckhorst’s Rangers

Chelsea were unfancied in 2012 but went all the way to the final in Munich and defeated Bayern to become the first London club to lift the famous trophy.

Rangers might be in the Europa League but the financial chasm between the top leagues and those below means that even semi-final qualification is a minor miracle.

Beating Borussia Dortmund, Red Star Belgrade and SC Braga to get here, the Gers are there on merit and much of it is down to the pragmatism and creativity of the Dutch coaching contingent.

A tough semi-final beckons v RB Leipzig but you’d be a fool to write Rangers off.

Roberto di Matteo also guided Chelsea to the FA Cup Final – with van Bronckhorst booking Rangers a spot in the Scottish Cup showpiece by beating Celtic last weekend – where they defeated Liverpool.

Rangers still have to overcome Hearts but once again the parallels are there and it’s interesting to consider these two young, European coaches coming into British sides for whom they used to play.

Of course, things didn’t end well in the end for Roberto di Matteo at Chelsea and Rangers fans will be hoping this is where any similarities with Giovanni van Bronckhorst end.

Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Van Bronckhorst too is still two games from a European Final and still has to go to Hampden and do the business against Hearts.

But if we’re drawing parallels between these two managers and clubs, then it’s got to be said, for this season at least, the omens are pretty good.

Here’s our predicted XI for the trip to RB Leipzig as Rangers feel the absence of five key players.

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment