This Rangers defence have spent little over three months together. Yet already they are becoming amongst the strongest they’ve had in the last decade.
Even with conventional midfielder Andy Halliday deputising, Rangers backline was solid, composed and the main reason Rangers made it through this tie. It starts with McGregor, is lead by Goldson and is followed to the letter by the rest.
It is testament too to the tactics of the young Steven Gerrard and his team, who have instilled a collective organisation which is matched only by a fighting spirit.
Allan McGregor was described as ‘world class’ by Steven Gerrard after the game. McGregor certainly pulled off three world class saves. Granted, the penalty was struck down the middle, but McGregor filled half the goal with a stretching, raised leg dive.
He is an immensely commanding goalkeeper, and truth be told, he never looked like conceding.
Connor Goldson is a constructive, composed, intelligent player. He’s also a leader who adds a passion and drive which his cohorts at the back find infectious.
He might’ve gave away the penalty, a blemish on a fine performance, but he raced up the pitch, dribbled for 20-30 yards and arched a shot just wide of the post.
He too looks the real deal.
Beside him, Nikola Katic is still young at 21, but he is a commanding presence the likes of hasn’t been seen at Ibrox for many a year. His ability in the air is powerful and exact, his composure and anticipation beyond his years.
Katic stylishly flicked the ball over an imposing defender and released heavy Maribor pressure. In his own half.
Tavernier has impressed heavily since being given the captains armband. A consistent complaint about the English wing back was his apparent lack of concentration in defence. This hasn’t been evident all season. His defining marauding, raking runs from right back are still a part of his game, but no longer at the sacrifice of his defensive responsibilities.
Beyond that, Jon Flanagan has also looked a fantastic, tidy signing and has rarely put a foot wrong. Borna Barisic is an exciting option on the left. And even Andy Halliday worked his socks off, focused on his job and put in a shift tonight.
There’s options in the Rangers defence, and whilst it needs another reinforcement at CB, it is fast become a formidable force in Europe and domestically.