Rangers are set for a big Europa League boost with Villarreal missing several key stars ahead of the opening group match.
Steven Gerrard will take his side on a daunting trip to El Madrigal to face the Spanish side in a couple of weeks. The match will mark Rangers’ return to group stage action in Europe for the first time since 2010. This led to the manager saying the club had “relaunched”.
It will be a huge challenge for Gerrard and his players to come out of Spain with something, but they have been provided a boost.
Santiago Caseres, Bruno Soriano, and Javi Fuego are all set to miss out on the visit of Rangers.
Who are they is the question Rangers fans will ask.
The key men
Soriano is only the club’s captain. Villarreal have had to contend without their star-man for over a year now as he continues to battle with a knee injury. The veteran star has made over 400 appearances at the El Madrigal outfit, and is a big miss.
Caseres was a big-money signing during the summer. Costing the club £8million from Velez Sarsfield over the close-season, the Yellow Submarine put a lot of investment into him.
The Argentinian star was signed to be a real enforcer for the club this season. Instead, he’s battling knee ligament damage that will rule him out for eight weeks.
The chances are he’ll be more than available for the trip to Ibrox. But in terms of opening day, Caseres will definitely sit out.
Lastly, Fuego is another defensive-midfielder like Caseres. He wasn’t signed over the summer, but did join the club aged 34 just last January.
He’s yet to seriously impress in Spain, making only 11 appearances. Fuego would’ve been the likely replacement for Caseres, however, and it remains to be seen how Villarreal alter their shape.
Interestingly, a stat was thrown up after Sunday informing that Rangers have had their worst league start in 29 years. Villarreal can also relate. The Spanish side have suffered their worst start to a season for 20 years.
So far, the club have picked up just one point in their first three matches.
It’s not quite a crisis, but Villarreal appear as vulnerable as they’ll ever be ahead of this clash.