Match preview: Rangers v PSV Eindhoven: Rangers to continue Champions League journey against Dutch giants
Qualification for the Champions League group stage continues on Tuesday night as Rangers and PSV Eindhoven meet at Ibrox in the first leg of the playoff round.
This tie is an exact repeat of this round last season, when the Scottish side edged out their Dutch opponents 3-2 on aggregate.
Michael Beale’s side come into Tuesday night’s fixture off the back of a mixed start to the season, as a suprise 1-0 loss to Kilmarnock on the SPL’s opening weekend was followed by a narrow aggregate success over Servette in Europe and a 4-0 home triumph over Livingston in their first home league match of the campaign on August 12.1.
Last time out the Glasgow side progressed in the League Cup on Saturday, as two goals in eight second-half minutes from Cyril Dessers and Danilo gave them a 2-1 victory over Greenock Morton.
Rangers will hope to make a much better fist of a Champions League campaign this season after they finished bottom of group A and lost all six games in 2022/23, including a 7-1 hammering at Ibrox by Liverpool.
The Gers will need to take care of business in this tie first, and they will know all about PSV after their encounters 12 months ago. Beale’s players will look to use those games to their advantage on Tuesday.
Peter Bosz’s Eindhoven will be out for revenge after they fell into the Europa League at the hands of the Scottish side in 2022, before going out in the knockout playoff round to eventual champions Sevilla having finished second in group A to Arsenal.
Last season’s Eredivisie runners-up are in sparkling form and are unbeaten in their last eight competitive matches, winning the same number consecutively at home.
They reached this stage of Champions League qualifying after a 7-2 aggregate thrashing of Sturm Graz and began their domestic season with maximum points following comfortable wins over Utrecht and Vitesse Arnheim.
PSV will be confident that they can complete the job at the Phillips Stadion next week provided they don’t get heavily beaten here, due to their imperious form on their own turf.
A return to the group stage of European football’s premier competition would cap a fine start to ex Borussia Dortmund coach Bosz’s reign, as the Dutch outfit look to once again make a mark on a trophy that they won back in 1988.
Captain James Tavernier, Borna Barisic, John Souttar, Nico Raskin and Todd Cantwell should all return to the starting 11 after they were rested at the weekend.
Club legend Steven Davis and fellow midfielder Nnamdi Ofoborh are long-term absentees for the Gers with a cruciate ligament rupture and heart condition, respectively.
Rangers are likely to go as strong as possible in both legs in order to get through the tie, so they will probably line up in their usual 4-3-3 shape with Ryan Jack partnering Cantwell and Raskin in midfield, whilst Dessers will be joined by Sam Lammers and Danilo in attack.
Connor Goldson will partner Souttar at the heart of the defence and Tavernier and Barisic will provide the width in the full-back roles.
PSV are without Mauro Junior and Armando Obispo who both have knee injuries, whilst Fredrik Oppegard is recovering from surgery.
Former Newcastle United forward Luuk De Jong will be supported in attack by fellow Netherlands international Noa Lang and Johan Bakayoko.
Ibrahim Sangare will play as part of a midfield three alongside Joey Veerman and Isaac Babadi.
Ex Crystal Palace and Sunderland man Patrick Van Aanholt will start at left-back for the Dutch giants.
Possible lineups and prediction
Butland; Tavernier, Goldson, Souttar, Barisic; Raskin, Jack, Cantwell; Lammers, Dessers, Danilo
PSV Eindhoven (4-3-3)
Benitez; Teze, Silva, Boscagli, Van Aanholt; Veerman, Sangare, Babadi; Bakayoko, De Jong, Lang
Despite a passionate Ibrox crowd, PSV are a very shrewd team and beat Premier League runners-up Arsenal in the Europa League last season.
The visitors’ form coupled with their European know-how may mean that they take a commanding lead back to Holland with them for the return leg.
Rangers 1 PSV Eindhoven 3