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Europa League: Rangers poised to go on offensive

Rangers manager Walter Smith believes team selection rather than formation will be the key to adapting to the unusual situation of playing a European second leg at Ibrox.

When Rangers host PSV Eindhoven tonight in the last 16 of the Europa League, it will be the first time since a 4-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv four years ago that they have played the return leg at home.

Rangers have generally excelled in the reverse situation, winning five out of six knockout ties in three seasons.

After a goalless first leg in Holland last week, Smith's men now face the danger that their opponents have struggled with — the fear of an away goal.

Rangers progressed to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 on the back of three successes following goalless Ibrox games, and knocked out Sporting Lisbon on the away goals rule in this season's last 32.

PSV have shown they can score on the road, winning all three of their away games in the group stages, against Metalist Kharkiv, Sampdoria and Debreceni, and netting twice in Lille in the previous round.

Smith knows his team need to attack more in this encounter than they have in previous Ibrox ties, but he looks set to continue with the 5-4-1 formation he has preferred in Europe this season to minimise the risk of losing an away goal.

Rangers struggled to get forward in Holland but Smith has Kyle Lafferty and Steven Naismith available after illness and injury.

“We'll have to change a little bit from the way we have played, especially in the away games,” Smith said.

“Although we have kept a very similar formation, we have approached the home games in a slightly different fashion, both in the Champions League and against Sporting Lisbon.

“We had more attacking personnel within the same set-up so we just have to find the right balance, that's the important part for us.

“It's that switch that's the main thing. The last game we had there we had Steven Naismith, Kyle Lafferty and Nikola Jelavic, nearly all the forward-type players, unavailable.

“We have got one or two of them back available so we are able to field more attacking players even though the formation might be the same.”

Belfast Telegraph


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