By Will Dodds

4th Nov, 2020 | 4:30pm

Ryan Gould says what Rangers fans can take heart from ahead of clash v Benfica

Former Dundee United midfielder Ryan Gould has suggested that Rangers look to hit Benfica on the counter-attack when they face them in the Europa League on Thursday.

Gould currently plays for Portuguese Primeira Liga side Farense, who lost 3-2 to Benfica earlier this season.

Like Rangers, the Jorge Jesus’ side are currently unbeaten following their opening two Europa League matches and sit second in the Primeira Liga after six matches.

However, they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Boavista in their most recent fixture, and Gould suggested that Rangers should look to emulate Boavista by hitting Benfica on the counter-attack.

“I’m sure the Rangers fans who watched Benfica’s game would have taken heart from what they saw but it maybe wasn’t such good viewing for us as we play Boavista on Sunday,” he told the Daily Record.

“Boavista have been struggling and they hadn’t even won a game before Monday night, but I have to say that was the worst game Benfica have played all season.”

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He added: “They just had a decent game plan, they kind of sat back and hit Benfica on the counter-attack and it worked well. I watched the game at Rugby Park on Sunday and they highlighted how few goals Rangers have conceded so they could sit back and they’ve got good players to hit on the counter if they want to copy Boavista.”

Sensible approach

Rangers have been incredibly strong defensively so far this season, conceding just three league goals and keeping two clean sheets in their opening two Europa League group stage ties.

Connor Goldson and James Tavernier have been particularly impressive as ever-presents, while new acquisitions Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun have settled well.

With 15 goals from their opening six league matches, Benfica clearly pose a dangerous attacking threat, but Gould is right to point out that they can be exploited at the back on the counter-attack.

The Lisbon side have only the tied seventh-best defensive record in the Primeira Liga, and conceded 15 shots in their recent defeat to Boavista, despite having 69.3% possession (via WhoScored).

The key for Gerrard in this matchup will be finding the right balance in the attack, with Jermain Defoe, Kemar Roofe and Alfredo Morelos all vying for a place up front.

The impressive ball-carrying abilities of Ryan Kent and Joe Aribo could also prove crucial, 2.2 and 1.7 completed dribbles per match in the Scottish Premiership respectively, as Gerrard looks to put his side on the brink of qualification from Group D.

In other Rangers news, Ally McCoist shares worries over links between football and dementia