In a repeat of last season’s Champions League qualifying play-off tie, Rangers and PSV Eindhoven renew hostilities with a place in the group stage on the line.
Michael Beale’s men enjoy the home advantage in the first leg as last year’s Eredivisie runners-up parachute at Ibrox on Tuesday.
Rangers ran out 3-2 aggregate winners in this corresponding match-up a year ago despite sharing the spoils in a goal-glutted 2-2 first-leg draw in Glasgow.
Antonio Colak, whose only strike in Eindhoven propelled Rangers into their first Champions League group stages since 2010/11, is no longer part of the Ibrox dressing room.
Cyriel Dessers and Danilo have joined the Gers to fill the void, with the latter particularly relishing PSV’s upcoming visit, having scored twice in his three starts against them during his time in the Netherlands.
However, this is a different Peasants side compared to recent years.
New manager Peter Bosz has hit the ground running since the get-go, winning all five competitive games in charge of the 24-time Eredivisie champions since replacing Ruud van Nistelrooy in the dugout.
Seeking their first group phase appearance in Europe’s most prestigious club competition since 2018/19, PSV picked apart Austrian outfit Sturm Graz in the previous qualification round.
After a scintillating 4-1 home win in the first leg, they came from behind to claim a 3-1 victory on hostile turf and earn the opportunity to exact vengeance on Rangers for last season’s heartbreak.
Rangers’ bid to dethrone arch-rivals Celtic in the Scottish Premiership got off to a dismal start as they slumped to an underwhelming 1-0 loss at Kilmarnock on the opening weekend.
Beale has since got his team back on track, overseeing three wins in the next four matches across all competitions, barring a 1-1 draw at Servette in the return leg of their Champions League qualifying tie.
The Gers haven’t lost sleep over that stalemate in Geneva, courtesy of a 2-1 home win in the first leg, which forms part of Beale’s flawless managerial record at Ibrox (W15, D2).
Rangers maintained their formidable home record under the English manager at the weekend, overcoming a 1-0 second-half deficit to oust second-tier Morton 2-1 in the Scottish League Cup.
Bosz’s 100% win ratio in charge of PSV faces the sternest test yet, particularly due to the Peasants’ well-documented tendency to fall apart at this juncture.
Except for a 6-2 aggregate demolition of BATE Borisov in 2018/19, they have failed to make it through the final round of Champions League qualifying in its current format in the other three attempts.
Taking on Rangers will unlikely improve the odds, given PSV’s embarrassing all-time record against Scottish clubs in major European competitions (W1, D4, L5).
If it’s any consolation, their only win in ten previous encounters against Scottish Premiership adversaries came against Rangers over a decade ago, so it barely counts for anything.
Rangers may have to make it without injury-troubled defenders Ben Davies and Ridvan Yilmaz, with both players still having question marks over their heads.
Former Bournemouth midfielder Nnamdi Ofoborh is not in contention for the matchday squad after being diagnosed with heart problems.
As for PSV, Armando Obispo and Mauro Junior will likely miss out on this trip due to long-term knee problems, while Fredrik Oppegard could still recover in time to board the plane.
Rangers potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Jack Butland; James Tavernier, John Souttar, Connor Goldson, Borna Barisic; Jose Cifuentes, Ryan Jack, Todd Cantwell; Abdallah Sima, Danilo, Cyriel Dessers.
PSV Eindhoven potential starting line-up:
(4-2-3-1): Walter Benitez; Jordan Teze, Andre Ramalho, Olivier Boscagli, Patrick van Aanholt; Joey Veerman, Ibrahim Sangare; Johan Bakayoko, Guus Til, Noa Lang; Luuk de Jong.
We Say: Rangers 2-1 PSV Eindhoven
This tie has a second-leg drama written all over it, but Rangers can rely on a reverberant Ibrox atmosphere to inspire them to an all-important first-leg lead.
Beale’s men have only managed one shutout in five competitive outings this season, and it’s hard to put it past PSV’s free-flowing attack to exploit Gers’ potential lapse in concentration at the back.
But we expect the home side to come out on top.
- Harvey Barnes comes off injured in Newcastle’s match against Sheffield United
- Chelsea 0-1 Aston Villa: Player rating as Watkins hands Villains victory over 10-man Blues
- Mitoma scores twice in Brighton’s 3-1 win over Bournemouth
- Harry Kane scores first hat-trick for Bayern Munich in 7-0 victory over Bochum
- Xavi signs one-year contract extension until 2025