Celtic v Rangers (Preview)


Probable line up for Rangers; - 4-3-3 - 1 McGregor

- 16 Patterson, 6 Goldson, 5 Helander & 31 Barisic

- 37 Arfield, 10 Davis & 18 Kamara

- 17 Aribo, 20 Morelos & 14 Kent


Balogun sometimes comes in for Helander if pace is required but with none of our attacking options offering blistering pace I would expect to see Helander playing. Aribo could be pushed back into midfield with Hagi (or even Roofe) coming in. However I believe Arfield's endeavour would be preferred and Aribo would give more support to the midfield.


Rangers typically line up with their two full backs pushing high and the midfield three and forward three all pretty much central. The average positions of the full backs is usually at the half way line or further forward and sometimes slightly ahead of Davis and Kamara.


When Balogun came in for the injured Tavernier he seemed to maintain the same average position however the balance of play changed from the right hand side to the left hand side. The last game with Tavernier in the team 62% of the full back touches were for Tavernier and 67% of the crosses were for Tavernier also. With Balogun that changed to 56% touches and 71% crosses in Barisic's favour and then with Patterson in that changed to 52% touches and 76% crosses again in Barisic's favour. So a swing from 23% for Barisic (when Tavernier in the team) to 76% for Barisic (when Patterson in the team) in regards to crossing shows how much the pattern of play from Rangers has changed.


The average positions of Rangers players for their home game against Slavia Prague below and you can see the central positions of the midfield 3 and forward 3 and the fact Patterson's average position is slighter further back than Barisic's. Patterson roughly has the same touches as Barisic but a lot less crosses as mentioned above and this has been the same in all the 4 games recently that Patterson has played. Barisic has also had a key pass every game in the last 7 games so this shows clearly that we need to find a plan to restrict Barisic offensively. (Aribo is the other danger threat with a key pass in each of the last 6 games).


Rangers have scored 20 goals from build up play (attacks starting in their own half and having 4 or more passes before the shot) which is 26% of their total. This is the highest of any team in the league with Aberdeen 2nd on 21.9%. In regards to NP xG created Rangers have 33.4% of their NP xG created coming from build ups.


Rangers NP xG for the season so far is 1.94 per game however their last 6 league games has averaged 1.41 so a slight decline. Similarly there has also been a decline in accurate passes (season average of 519 versus last 6 league game average of 494), touches (808 v 794), shots on target (5.9 v 5.3), shots (16.8 v 13.3), corners (6.78 v 5.83) and box touches (32.9 v 27.5). Opponents NP xG has increased just slightly from 0.6 for the season to 0.63 for the last 6 games.


My head says that the likely outcome for this match would be Celtic to be winning at half time and Rangers to win at full time. (2-1 probably).


However football isn't always about tactics and emotion can take over and motivationally Celtic players have the most to play for. We are not as bad as we have been playing and they are not as good as they have been playing so that gives us some hope. Although it is to be taken with the fact they have had an outstanding season.


I'm looking for us to start the game similar to what we did at Ibrox with Edouard and Elyounoussi pressing their full backs and Turnbull pressing Davis. We just need more effectiveness from our pressure and attacks created.


I believe we will line up in the 442D formation again with Elyounoussi and Edouard up top again.


15 minute Trends graphs for the previous two games below.


We were the dominant team in the October game but that dominance was controlled by Rangers as we had 0 shots on target. Rangers started that game strong on passing accuracy with 94% passing accuracy in the first 15 minutes but we had 52% possession with 110 touches.


In the January game we started off the first 30 minutes with 59% and 52% possession and a passing accuracy of 89% and 77% (compared to Rangers' 67% and 74%) but this then tailed off to the end of the first half. 60 mins to 75 mins was a really poor period for us with only 45 touches and 24% possession. The players obviously affected by being reduced to 10 men (with Bitton sent off in 62mins).


Hopefully we can give the supporters a bit of pride by ending the potential invincible season for Rangers.


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