Rangers v Sparta Prague: Giovanni van Bronckhorst promises ‘changes’

Rangers v Sparta Prague: Giovanni van Bronckhorst promises ‘changes’

Rangers players
Rangers lost 3-1 to Hibs in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup semi-final
Venue: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 25 November Kick-off: 20:00 GMT
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Scotland DAB/810MW; live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Giovanni van Bronckhorst says there will “definitely” be some changes to the Rangers team as he takes charge for the first time against Sparta Prague.

The Dutchman watched from the stand as Rangers lost to Hibernian in Sunday’s Scottish League Cup semi-final.

Victory by a margin of two goals or more on Thursday would secure the Ibrox side a place in the Europa League knockout rounds.

“We were not happy with the result or the goals conceded,” said the manager.

“We have to be much more focused and compact in the defensive side of the match. It is important in Europe to be solid at the back.

“You will see a team in a system I like to play and how I feel is best to play against Prague. You will definitely see some changes.”

Team news

Filip Helander remains injured for Rangers, while fellow centre-half Jack Simpson and striker Jermain Defoe are not available for European matches.

Sparta striker Adam Hlozek is rated as “touch and go”, while winger Jakub Pesek picked up an injury on international duty with the Czech Republic.

Centre-back Ondrej Celustka and winger Ladislav Krejci remain sidelined.

Choose your starting XI. It’s up to you how to approach it – you could go for the team you WANT the manager to pick or the one you THINK he will.

What did we learn about Sparta?

Sparta’s 1-0 win on matchday two, if anything, flattered Rangers, who were second best until late in the match. That gave the Prague side a foothold in Group A after their opening draw with Brondby.

However, successive defeats by group winners Lyon allowed Rangers to draw level on points with Pavel Vrba’s side. And, after a weekend 4-0 loss to Slovacko, Sparta are fourth in their domestic league.

What they said

Rangers manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “It is a very short time with the players but they can already sense what I want to change.

“The way we have to prepare physically and mentally, you cannot do everything in two days but step-by-step the players will learn the style of play. They look fresh and sharp, we are well prepared and go for a good result.”

Sparta Prague head coach Pavel Vrba: “I don’t think there was a problem between Rangers and Sparta in Prague, so I don’t understand why I should expect problems now.

“Regardless of which manager is in charge, we know Rangers is a very strong team. We know there is a new manager, but it is still the same team. We want to proceed, so three points is our goal.”

Match stats

  • The last time Rangers hosted Sparta, they won 2-1 in extra-time in the European Cup in October 1991 thanks to a brace from Stuart McCall.
  • Sparta have won six of their past seven matches against Scottish opposition (D1), beating Airdrieonians (twice), Hearts, Celtic (twice) and Rangers.
  • Including qualifiers, Rangers have only won two of their past 10 European matches (D3 L5), having won nine of their previous 11 (D2).
  • Sparta have only won three of their past 13 Europa League matches (D2 L8), but all three have been against Scottish opponents – two against Celtic in November 2020 and once against Rangers on matchday two this season.
  • Only three players – Munas Dubbur (17), Bruno Fernandes (16) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14) – have scored more Europa League goals since the start of the 2018-19 campaign than Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos (11).

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