'Desperate situation' - Gerrard expecting fireworks in Rangers v Standard Liege clash
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard has said he is expecting Standard Liege to come and attack ahead of their Europa League meeting on Thursday.
The Gers will guarantee their progress to the knockout stages with a win, while a draw could be enough if Lech Poznan fail to beat Benfica.
Gerrard’s side currently sit top of Group D, level on points with Benfica, and win the tiebreaker over the Lisbon side on away goals.
Speaking ahead of the match, Gerrard said that his players needed to be ready for a team coming to Ibrox desperate for a win.
“We’re on an unbeaten run we want to try to protect and continue and we know Standard have got to come here and try to win the game,” he said (via Daily Record).
“So we have to be aware of that and that will certainly play some part in our game plan, knowing that they’re in a more desperate situation than us.
“I’d expect them to play a back five but I’ve seen them play with a back four before. We also know that Merveille Bokadi, who plays in the middle of the back three, likes to step into midfield and it almost becomes a four when he becomes a bit adventurous.
“It’ll be a difficult game but we’re at home. We’re in a good place and confidence and belief are really high at the moment.“
Rangers have looked to dominate most of their games this season, but it is interesting to see that Gerrard still puts plenty of research into analysing their opponents and putting together a game plan to tackle them.
However, he does not over-adjust based on what he sees and even if Liege go with a back three, Rangers will likely continue to use the back four formation that has served them well.
If he is concerned about Bokadi stepping out of defence, he can task either Scott Arfield or Joe Aribo as the most advanced midfielder to press him back and prevent him from setting the play for the Belgian side.
In deep midfield, it will be interesting to see how he sets up, with Ryan Jack a doubt and Bongani Zungu pushing for a start with a decent showing against Falkirk on Sunday. This match looks like a good opportunity to give Zungu his first start in Europe, but Gerrard could stick with Glen Kamara and Steven Davis if he wants to avoid taking any risks.
In other Rangers news, three Gers players with it all to prove v Standard Liege