Poorest Champions League performers
The meek manner in which the Ibrox men were brushed aside by Liverpool has resulted in a bottom-of-the-class status for them among the 32 teams contesting the group stages. Not only have Rangers now lost their first three games at this juncture of the competition for only the second time in 11 such tilts - 1995-96 the other - but they have failed to conjure up a single goal in the Group A losses to Jurgen Klopp’s men, Napoli and Ajax.
They are one of a mere three teams to have zero in both their ‘goals’ and ‘points’ columns of the 32 in the competition. However, the other two sides in this bracket, Copenhagen and Sevilla - both in Group G - have only played two games. Moreover, neither have hemorrhaged nine goals in their defeats, with the totals on this measure -3 and -4, respectively. With a -9 figure, Rangers are by some margin lowliest of the Champions League pile.
All sorts of permutations were set out in the wake of their Anfield swatting for how Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men can remain in European competition beyond the Champions League group stages. In essence, Rangers require to better Ajax’s results in the next two games before beating the Dutch club when the pair meet at Ibrox in the final group encounter to earn the third place that would progress them to play-off round for the Europa League last 16. Yet, can there be a realist hope that they will even lay a glove on Liverpool in Govan next week, or simply avoid a heavy loss in the trip to Napoli that follows? Two matches they will undertake as Ajax are in Naples then home to Liverpool.
The Amsterdam side’s 6-1 battering at home to the Italians last night exposes that they are flaky. However, they didn’t look that way when dishing out a 4-0 thumping of Rangers on matchday one. All three of the Rangers’ Group A rivals have looked a class apart from them. Which raises the very real possibility of the Ibrox club going pointless in a Champions League campaign for the first time.
McGregor the marvel
It could be conservatively estimated that Allan McGregor made five certain-goal preventing blocks across the 90 minutes at Anfield. Those can be added to four such stops he pulled off in the 3-0 reverse against Napoli in the club’s previous Champions League group stage outing. It is frightening to think of the suffering that could have been inflicted on the Ibrox men in these two defeats without him, then.
The 40-year-old, in re-affirming himself as Rangers’ first choice in recent weeks, has rediscovered the poise that has made him a keeper of such longevity and mastery. He truly is a marvel.