Following an authoritative victory against Dundee United in the league, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers face an acid test against Spanish side Villarreal in the Europa League. The Scottish giants saw off FK Shkupi, NK Osijek, Maribor and FC Ufa to reach the group stage, but their chapter begins here.
This might be the right time to play El Submarino Amarillo, who have picked up just one win from their opening four LaLiga matches. However, Gerrard has a number of injury concerns and headaches.
The former Liverpool midfielder will be without a host of first-team stars. Having shown red cards in the match against FC Ufa, sharpshooter Alfredo Morelos and Jon FLanagan will miss out due to suspension.
Gareth McAuley and Ryan Jack are suffering from calf injuries. Meanwhile, Jordan Rossiter, Lee Wallace and Graham Dorrans are not yet fully match fit. Hence, they will be on the sidelines as well.
The consistent Allan McGregor will guard goal for the Teddy Bears. Nikola Katic and Connor Goldson pick themselves as centre-halves, whereas Borna Barisic is most likely to replace the suspended Flanagan. The solidity, decisiveness and robustness of James Tavernier will be seen at right back.
Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria is expected to play at the heart of midfield. He will hold his lines, offer energy and play forward passes. Alongside him, will be the energetic Scott Arfield.
Ryan Kent, who starred in Gers’ win over Dundee United, will keep his place in the side down the left wing. Lassana Coulibaly will be tasked with adding creativity, pace and balance to the side. Candeias will occupy the right-wing spot. He will run at the defence, protect his full back and whip crosses into the box.
Kyle Lafferty, who has adapted well to life at the Ibrox, will lead the lines for Rangers in Morelos’ absence. Powerful, sturdy and sharp, the onus will be on him to supply the goals and take his side over the line.
Probable XI (4-2-3-1)
Barisic – Katic – Goldson – Tavernier
Ejaria – Arfield
Kent – Coulibaly – Candeias