Match Ratings – Brondby 1-1 Rangers

folder_openMatch Ratings, Rangers FC

In the context of having European football after Christmas, this game help a lot of importance for Rangers as we made the journey to Copenhagen to have our second meeting with Brondby. This was a team that many felt was the weakest that we have played in the group stage of this competition since Steven Gerrard’s arrival, so despite us being on their ground with what we anticipated would be a hostile atmosphere, there was still the belief that a win for us would be more than achievable. The feel good factor of our thumping victory away at Motherwell was also a contributing factor to these expectations. There was a feeling that we had found a formula for a more dynamic and flowing attack, and that forward three would again get it’s chance to shine. Our start to this game was decent enough, it was not long before we had the ball in the net however the corner was ruled to have gone over the by line before it was put in. All the same, it was encouraging and hopefully something we could build on. However, we failed to take advantage of this and halfway through the opening 45, we stopped doing the things we should be doing and Brondby grew in confidence, with the Danes having the chances toward the end of the half, one of which resulted in the opening goal courtesy of a Rangers head. To go into the dressing room behind was desperately poor, with a lot of fingers being pointed at the attacking players not doing more than what they had promised, or at least had promised in our heads.

With the second half starting without a significant improvement in our chance creation, we rung the changes with three substitutions coming on to create a new forward line. This included the return of a player who, when on form, can be a real catalyst for us. And this proved to be the case, as speed and better intent proved to be what was required, a threaded ball into the path of another replacement who finished well into the opposite corner, and it was all square. The momentum, you would have hoped, would push us on to get a second and the win, but the game faded out and would result in the points being shared. On the face of it, not winning this game will be a disappointment, but Brondby needed the win far more in terms of the wider picture of this group. With Lyon having defeated Sparta Prague, the next game in Europe, at Ibrox, is in all or nothing situation. A win should see us through to the last 16 of the Europa League, which would be the third consecutive time for this team. Failure to win, especially a defeat, and the prospect of the Conference League looks more likely.

Here is how you rated our players from our draw in Denmark.

Allan McGregor – 5.7 (6)

Much like at Ibrox, this was not a European game that kept Allan McGregor particularly busy. There was no need for any wonder save from nowhere, or a series of clever stops. However, he did have to pick the ball out of the net after conceding from yet another corner. There isn’t a lot you can say about him here, he doesn’t get enough cover from those in front. What I did notice outwith this moment was him coming off his line a lot more than normal, which I know a number of fans have been asking for.

James Tavernier – 5.7 (6)

The same level of attacking invention from Sunday was not there, but he was busier defending which could be a reason for this. Brondby were doing a lot of their attacking from the wide areas, keeping both of our full backs busy, and neither looked like they were having the easiest of times with this. All the same, he did not make in glaring errors and is not going to be pointed to as someone who was at fault for our failure to win.

Connor Goldson – 5.4 (5)

It’s the same mistakes that keep popping up from Goldson. The one that really irks me the most, which happened a few times here, is his habit for giving the ball away far too cheaply, a short pass which just goes out for a throw or is so easy for an opponent to intercept. I try to think what is this down to. Concentration? Fatigue? Whatever the reason, it really needs to be assessed when the international break happens after the upcoming weekend.

Leon Balogun – 5.9 (6)

It would be really easy to do the opposite, but I don’t want to be too critical of him for the own goal. I don’t say this on the basis of how well he has done for us of late, I can understand the decision he makes. It’s a natural instinct to get his head on the ball, as leaving it would no doubt allow a tap in for any attacker behind him. His problem is his body shape, where he is at the point he makes contact is only going to result in it going in. And I’m not sure having anyone on the post, considering what Brondby did in setting up the corner, would have made a huge difference.

Borna Barisic – 4.4 (5)

His inclusion in the starting eleven was the only change from Motherwell, and looking back it wasn’t wholly necessary. Hindsight is of course a wonderful thing, but as I had referenced earlier, both of our full backs did have a tough time dealing with the wide play of the Danish side. And there is little doubt that Bassey is a better defensive full back than Borna, and there was nothing about his attacking game that made up for this. It will be interesting to see whether he is able to keep his place for Sunday’s tie.

Scott Arfield – 5.1 (7)

It’s not often this happens, but I am very surprised and very much disagree with the rating that has been given to Arfield from this game. I thought, for the time he was on the field, he was running into spaces in the final third and was at the heart of the best attacking spells we had. It’s what he does so well, and the way our attack would spread itself to allow for those runs, it all worked really nicely. Him coming off as early as he did I thought was really strange, I think there were a couple of others who would have been more worth hooking than him.

Steven Davis – 5.0 (5)

As high a bar as it is to set, Davis did not do as well here as he did on Sunday. He was in the right areas but he was not making an impact, neither going forward nor at the back. I think that is why, collectively, we are fairly harsh on Steven here, because who we were up against should absolutely be a team that Davis can take advantage of. I’ve also noticed that, despite this being something he would always do, and did last season, he has stopped covering the back post at corners. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Glen Kamara – 6.0 (6)

This was very…”so so”. There was nothing you could point to from him where it made a positive impact on the team, nor did he make mistakes that put us in trouble. It’s a shame that he could not light the fire a bit more and be more direct with his moving the ball on, but I sometimes wonder whether it’s more to do with tactics implemented as opposed to general form from him.

Joe Aribo – 6.0 (6)

He has a real issue with the number of touches he wants to take on the ball. I rarely see him make a quick decision on the ball, he always looks for that extra few steps. This is no doubt something he has learned through playing on the smaller pitches growing up as has been referenced in the past, but at this level you need to be able to have the habit of moving the ball on quickly, whether it be a pass or a shot, both of which were options that would have been better than holding the ball a number of times.

Alfredo Morelos – 4.3 (5)

We will probably never know for sure whether the early goal being ruled out for the corner having gone over the line was the right decision, but in any case it is unlucky for Alfredo. Other than that, he has one other shot which he hits from distance due to his lack of pace, and an early (albeit ridiculous) booking left him hampered with his game and his exit from the game early in the second half was the correct call. He is struggling a bit to regain a consistent level of form, and he isn’t doing a huge amount to earn that starting place.

Fashion Sakala – 4.4 (5)

He is more than just the basis of a very catchy tune, which is of course playing on a loop in our heads and me having just mentioned it will have brought it to the front of your mind again. You’re welcome. He will feel he should have done better with a shot he dragged across goal, he maybe could have taken a touch inside first to angle a better effort. He was also booked, which was a crazy decision considering there is nowhere he can possibly place his feet after a challenge from the Brondby defender, than on said defender. On that tightrope, I could understand why he was taken off.

Ianis Hagi – 6.7 (7)

He is just that added bit of quality that is so great to be able to bring on to help us. It wasn’t too long before his inclusion made a big difference, receiving the ball from Kent he placed his shot well into the opposite corner, a very nice finish from him, and he will hope this gives the coaching staff something to think about re bringing him back into the fold from the get go.

Ryan Kent – 6.9 (7) – Man of the Match

When we have lamented about a lot of our poor attacking play of late, we have often consoled ourselves with the idea that things would improve when Ryan Kent was back. He is back, and we have immediately seen the benefit. By far the best he has looked this season, clearly the injury issues in the opening games of the season were bigger than we had realised, so now that he has clearly recovered from this we are going to get the benefit of him being back. His assist here was an example of the many things he can do well. Speed on the ball, good dribbling and great use of the ball threading it for Hagi. He could make a big difference in our next run of games, and easing him back is the right way to do it just now.

Kemar Roofe – 5.4 (5)

I wouldn’t say he has done quite enough to suggest that he should overtake Morelos based on his overall performances. It was the same story in this game, but that freshness was all the same welcome. It would be interesting to see if it is now a straight battle between him and Alfredo. Perhaps the return of Kent makes that more complex.

Juninho Bacuna – 4.9 (5)

I think it is still too early to judge Bacuna. He has made a number of sub appearances but they have all been too late to make a real impact on a tie. His only start saw him subbed off early as well. We are still to understand what type of player he is for us yet, so until such time I don’t think we can make a definitive judgement. Some players in this squad this season have proven those who have done so very wrong.

Calvin Bassey – 4.5 (5)

It was only for a short period of time, but you felt that he showed up better at left back than what Barisic did for the other 80 minutes. I would like to see him retain that left back spot for a spell now, I think he has earned it and I think he gives us more of an overall performance.

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