Saturday at 3pm will see Rangers take on Marseille at Ibrox. This hastily arranged friendly will be the first chance for fans to see the likes of Alves, Dorrans, Peña and Herrera live in action.
Marseille come to Ibrox in good pre-season form. The fifth-placed finishers in Ligue 1 last season have won every friendly so far, beating sides like Sion, Fenerbahce and Sporting Lisbon. They face their first competitive game of the season in the Europa League qualifiers on Thursday against KV Oostende and seem more than prepared for the challenge.
Marseille have a very strong squad after a summer of good signings. Adding to players like Payet and Evra, they’ve brought Mandanda back to the club and made the signing on N’Jie permanent. This will be a real challenge for our team.
It’s almost depressing to think that a squad that strong could only finish 5th in their league last season. It’s a real indication of just how far behind the top clubs in Europe we are these days.
For Rangers, tomorrow will be about trying to keep the score down in the main. I suspect this friendly will give us an indication of how we’ll play in the more difficult away games in the league. We’ve finally got the majority of our signings in and playing, so they have a couple of weeks to gel before the league begins. Playing a side as good as Marseille will give them an indication of where we need to get to.
Bruno Alves being put in front of the media yesterday suggests he’ll be starting the game. The training pictures will often give a good indication of the team, but sadly not this time around. As such, my prediction for the team which will start the game is:
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In the 4-4-2 diamond shape we saw against St Johnstone. Given that you’d expect Marseille to dominate the game, I’d imagine there will be times it’ll be more like a 4-6-0!
Some poor performances have meant the pressure is already huge for our manager. Rather unfounded rumours of dressing room discontent have added to that. Rangers will need to show some signs of promise and keep the score respectable to lift this somewhat. Last season, in January, we lost heavily to RB Leipzig in a game where we showed very little ability to give them problems. We’ll need to better than that against a side potentially comparable in terms of ability.
Predicting the Marseille starting XI is even more difficult. They’ve played a number of games in the past fortnight, and have to prepare for Thursday, so it’s possible we may not see some of their better players. However, I hope they play with as strong a team as possible. Strange as that may sound, I think we’ll benefit more from a true test than anything else.
How do you see the game going? Any predictions on the starting team? Tweet us @rangersnewsuk with your thoughts!