Tuesday, November 24, 2009
TUESDAY ............ RANGERS TO PUT A SMILE BACK ON BABBEL'S FACE ...............
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
GLASGOW RANGERS - VfB STUTTGART
We discussed before the Sevilla game how negative Rangers are, especially at Ibrox, in europe, where they persist in playing 4-5-1 and try to hit teams on the break. This is crazy in Champions League group games, it worked for them in the UEFA Cup when it was a knockout tournament, but sooner or later you need to win matches to progress. Guess that time has come, but even against a struggling Stuttgart team, I am not sure that they are up to the task.
This is quite possibly one of the worst Rangers team's in a decade, the club have no money to rebuild and they have conceded three or more in their last three home european ties, including four against both Sevilla and Unirea. This evening they are set to switch to 4-4-2 and IMO that will just confuse the players,which will not take much, to give you some idea of how negative they have been in these games, top scorer Kris Boyd, with 86 goals in 123 starts for the Gers, is set to make his first ever CL start tonight !
He is happy beating up on the SPL lesser lights, but I am not so sure and obviously neither is Walter Smith, about his ability to do so agaisnt the more savvy european defenders. The Rangers backline is short on both confidence and experience and if they concede once, anything could happen.
The visitors have really struggled this season and are currently fighting a Bundesliga relegation battle, but I suspect they are too good to remain at the foot of the table for long..... famous last words The CL , especially on the road, where they have drawn at Unirea, Sevilla and won at Timisoara (who currently lead the Romanian league) has given them respite from Bundesliga frustration and they know that two wins will see them progress to the knockout stage and salvage their season and probably save coach Markus Babbel's job. They restricted those three opponents to very few chances on goal , keeping Sevilla to eight shots on target in 90 minutes of football was a real achievement and they are unlikely to have too many problems keeping this limited Rangers side at bay. I have to take them off level ball.
6.5 points Stuttgart level ball 1.99 asian line.
I am very keen on Unirea here getting the handicap start. Do not get me wrong, I am very impressed by this Sevilla side and know a couple of good judges who think that they have the strongest squad in La Liga, pretty sure I told you that earlier in the season and sitting just three points off the top of the league, they might just prove that by putting in a big title challenge in 2010.
They have already secured qualification from this group and will finish top with a point this evening, or a win in their final home fixture, so three points in Romania is surely not a top priority. They were missing nine players at the weekend , so will not wish to lose any more tonight to injury, especially with a very exciting campaign, battling on two fronts, ahead of them.
Hosts are on a five week unbeaten run and have come to terms with Champions League football and given themselves a good chance to qualify, with four points from two games with Rangers. They are looking for a little bit of history by becoming the first Romanian side to qualify through the group stage and facing a Sevilla team that cannot be fully motivated, I give them a great chance to do so.
I am sure that the Spanish side would rather take three league points at the weekend than a win here, whereas this is Unirea's biggest ever game. No weather concerns in Romania, I like the quote, draw or narrow home win for me.
6.5 points Unirea +1/4 ball 1.97 asian line.
RUBIN- DYNAMO KIEV
Only two points seperate the four teams in Group F and it would be a major coup for either of these clubs to progress from a section containing european giants Barcelona and Inter. Not much love on the pitch, when Kiev face Russian teams and they have a very solid record in these fixtures. Rubin have just secured their second domestic title in a row and to do that, whilst they are involved in their first ever CL campaign is a fanatstic achievement, even more so for a team that had never played in the top flight of Russian football until 2003. Kiev arrive here on the back of a fine 3-0 win over big rivals Shakhtar at the weekend, which has given them a big six point lead at the top of the table, they have changed their game plan since these two last met and now play at a very high tempo, more like an EPL club.
So, what to expect, both will surely look to win, with a final group game against the big two to come. The first meeting between these two produced four goals and I expect this to get very stretched after the break, with end to end action, "over" for me. Temperature is set to be around zero come kick off time, with maybe a few snow flurries or rain, this seems unlikely to bother either team much.......... so not sure why I mentioned it !
6.5 points "over" 2.25 goals 2.01 asian line.