RB Leipzig v Rangers late team news and predicted XI: False nine debate and Scott Wright role
Giovanni van Bronckhorst has masterminded some big European results this year – but the restrictions on his Rangers team selections are becoming tighter and tighter as the Europa League progresses to the penultimate stage.
Ianis Hagi was ruled out of the knock-out stages, Alfredo Morelos picked up a season-ending injury after Borussia Dortmund and Red Star Belgrade were put to the sword and now Kemar Roofe is missing the semi-final first-leg with RB Leipzig following his heroics against Braga in the quarter final.
It has left a big question-mark over Rangers approach to this key clash in Germany which will set the tone for the return leg at Ibrox next Thursday.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst confirmed the squad from the weekend win against Motherwell was the same as those he was preparing for the European encounter which means “injured players are still injured” but no new restrictions from the Fir Park 3-1 win. Aaron Ramsey remains another notable absentee but van Bronckhorst also kyboshed speculation over Fashion Sakala’s availability and insisted “we have a big plane” including the wide-attacker travelling to Germany. Social media images later showed Sakala assessing the Red Bull Arena surface on Wednesday night.
Missing a recognised striker, beyond the Zambian, has prompted debate over the ‘false 9’ tactical switch and Rangers’ personnel to potentially carry out such a role. Joe Aribo, Ryan Kent and Scott Arfield could all be candidates as the withdrawn forward but van Bronckhorst has proven astute tactically on several European occasions already and could again pull a surprise in other ways.
The Dutchman has adaptable players like John Lundstram and Calvin Bassey who can fulfil multiple roles and positions during games, which will be particularly important with his selection options becoming increasingly stretched and the centre-back switch of Lundstram was a masterstroke in the two-legged win against Borussia Dortmund.
Amidst the dwindling squad availability, one boost van Bronckhorst will have is the recent form of Scott Wright. The ex-Aberdeen winger had a claim on the opening goal at the weekend but there was no doubt Rangers’ second was his and he may have played his way into his manager’s thoughts in recent weeks too.
Predicted line-up: McGregor, Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic, Lundstram, Jack, Arfield, Aribo, Kent, Sakala. Subs from: Kamara, Davis, Wright, Balogun, Lowry, Sands, Amad, King, McLaughlin.