Qualification in UEFA Europa League group G will go to the final game. This was due to Feyenoord and Rangers drawing their match with a 2-2 scoreline as well as FC Porto defeating Young Boys 2-1 in Bern. Jens Toornstra gave Dick Advocaat’s side a half-time lead but Rangers managed to change their approach and take the lead through two Alfredo Morelos headers. That wasn’t enough for Rangers as Luis Sinisterra made sure the two sides left the match with a point each.

This tactical analysis will explain how the tactics deployed by Rangers and Feyenoord had an impact on the performances of both sides and the overall result of the match.

Line-ups

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Teams’ starting line-ups and formations

Advocaat changed shape from the Ibrox fixture. He went with a more traditional 4-3-3 rather than the 4-2-3-1 Jaap Stam used at Ibrox. He was looking for a fast start and to make the pitch extremely big.

Steven Gerrard, on the other hand, used his usual narrow 4-3-3 formation and he wanted to try and be solid for the first 30 like the rest of the Europa League fixtures and build from that tactical base.

Rangers’ narrow shape struggled to cope with Feyenoord’s flying full-backs

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Rangers are set up fine on the left, but Jack is too narrow allowing Tyrell Malacia to exploit the space

In the image above, Feyenoord’s ultimate goal is to get Tyrell Malacia in behind the Rangers defence. This is achieved by them being able to draw Ryan Jack, who is Rangers’ right-sided midfielder into the middle of the park and condense that area because Sinisterra drops off into the area between Jack and Davis, and leaves a massive area –shaded – for the left-back to attack. As the attack developed. Sam Larsson (out of the picture) was able to link with Malacia in order to create an opportunity for the home side.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Sam Larsson draws Rangers’ midfield allowing the space for the Feyenoord right-back to cross

A similar situation occurred in the next example. Larsson carried the ball and was able to break the Rangers lines between the midfield and backline. However, given the three Rangers midfielders are in a narrow triangle and Borna Barišić is tucked in, it gives Feyenoord an outlet through their right-back, whose cross created a chance at the back post for Sinisterra. However, neither Kamara or Jack are able to get out wide and deal with the full-back as the Rangers system is designed for them to do.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
positional map of Feyenoord’s attacks

The above image shows the positions of the Feyenoord attacks. While their 12 attacks from the central areas had the highest xG, their wings were their most used route in terms of their attacking play. They had 21 attacks coming from the wide areas with 15 coming down the left. In terms of their general crosses, they had an overall number of 19 with just four being successful.

Rangers’ passive first half 

Rangers’ first half was one of an extremely passive nature. The image below shows how easy it is for Feyenoord to build the play from their defence. Ryan Kent doesn’t press and Glen Kamara allows the ball to find the wide outlet. Given the nature of the first half, it was no surprise when Feyenoord were able to build and break the Rangers lines so easily.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Rangers’ shape was not tight enough and it allowed Feyenoord to build easily due to the non-existent press from the front
UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Sam Larsson is able to pick up the ball in between the lines again. Rangers far too passive within their shape

Yet again, Feyenoord were able to take advantage of Rangers’ slackness when out of possession. In the image above, Sensi, under no pressure is able to feed Larsson who would run at the heart of the Rangers backline. However, this is able to occur because Morelos doesn’t press Sensi, then Toornstra runs off the back of Sheyi Ojo and the ball from Sensi isn’t cut out by Jack or James Tavernier due to the space between the two players.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Rangers passive nature in this phase of play ends with Feyenoord taking the lead

Rangers’ passive theme led to them going behind at the interval. Sam Larsson is given too much space by both Rangers centre-backs while Steven Davis is too slow to engage with Larsson, which could have created an opportunity to clear. Glen Kamara is unaware of Toornstra’s whereabouts and he’s able to run off the back of him and get onto Larsson’s lay-off. It summed up Rangers’ first half without the ball: slow in movement and in thought process and they were punished.

Rangers profit from isolating the Feyenoord right-back Lutsharel Geertruida and Alfredo Morelos’ outstanding movement in the box

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Kamara and Kent work it so Barišić is left to take on the right back

The above image is the first time in the game where Rangers looked to isolate Geertruida. Kamara and Kent are able to occupy Berghuis and Botteghin and this opened up the space for the Croatian to beat his man and get a cross over.

The targeting of Geertuida was a major factor in both Rangers goals too. This became an obvious tactic to isolate him, especially in the second half.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Kent one on one against Geertruida and Morelos’ movement towards the back post beats Sensi

The above image shows the combination of isolating Geertruida and the movement of Morelos to the circled area.  Morelos initially makes a forward movement before getting in behind Sensi to plant the header home to equalise. Sensi should be taking a step backwards to put Morelos under pressure but he doesn’t receive a shout from his goalkeeper to alert him to where Morelos is.

UEFA Europa League 2019/20: Feyenoord vs Rangers - tactical analysis tactics
Kamara started in a wide position but again he set up the left-hand side one vs one and Morelos gets in between both defenders to put Rangers ahead

The above image shows Barišić being played one on one with the right-back. Kamara popped the ball off to him and carried his run into the box. This allows Morelos to get in between both defenders and angle his header in. However, the movement of Kamara was vital in helping the defenders take their concentration away from Morelos.

Conclusion

This analysis showed how Rangers have to improve without the ball in certain situations, but also it showed how good they are at isolating certain individuals within a team and taking advantage of it.

Overall, a 2-2 draw was a fair result and the tactical battle between the two managers was interesting. One point will do for Rangers in game six in terms of gaining qualification and on this display, their attacking play will see them through.


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