Rangers earn huge praise in UEFA report, including fans, full-backs and surprise 'important' player named
The Ibrox club famously progressed to the competition’s final where they came unstuck on penalties to German side Eintracht Frankfurt.
A key aspect of Rangers’ run to the final was their home form. Not only did they pick up six of their eight points in the group stage at Ibrox, they were undefeated in the knockout stage, drawing with Borussia Dortmund and defeating Braga, RB Leipzig and Red Star Belgrade.
Lyon were the only team to win in Govan in the Europa League run, Malmo having also done so when they defeated Rangers in the Champions League qualifiers.
UEFA detailed the impact the 'twelfth man’ made at Ibrox.
“Although impossible to quantify in terms of influence as a result, it looks like the return of fans after two seasons overshadowed by pandemic-enforced restrictions gave home teams a boost,” the report read. “The two finalists were perhaps the finest examples of fan power, where their 12th man in the stands encouraged, urged and inspired them to overcome the odds and produce match-winning performances.
"Ibrox stadium was also the scene of some spirited second-leg performances which carried Rangers through to the final. ‘Against Braga, because of the crowd, Rangers dominated' said one technical observer. ‘They had a fast tempo, the crosses going in; there was instant pressing, it was a totally different game [to the first leg] and the fans definitely affected that. In Rangers’ home matches, they carried them.’”
A lot of goals
One of the key observations made by former Hibs and Kilmarnock boss Mixu Paatelainen was the importance of crosses. The UEFA report namechecked both James Tavenier and Borna Barisic responsible for 26 per cent and 18 per cent of all Rangers crosses respectively.
The Finn wrote: “I think the game is going more and more to fast transitions and we will see more; getting the ball into the box quick and low. These crosses will lead to a lot of goals.”
Rangers were the top scorers with 23 goals. Impressively they averaged the fewest attempts per goal with just 7.6. Both finalists scored the most goals from set pieces (8) while Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side gave up the second most goals from set pieces (6) behind Braga (10).
Three Rangers players made the technical observers team of the tournament: Calvin Bassey, James Tavernier and Ryan Kent.
Bassey’s “assuredness on the ball was striking for such a young defender”, while Tavernier was described as the “embodiment of a modern-day full-back”. Kent’s ability to use both feet made him “unpredictable and difficult to mark”.
Rangers, as a team, were noted for their “tactical flexibility” and being “well-balanced with high level of self-confidence”.
Steven Davis was a surprise mention in the technical report despite not featuring in the knockout stages until the final, although he played in all six group games.
"Important holding midfielder Davis, organising the team from deep and a key link between defence and attack,” UEFA said.
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