PSV Eindhoven and Glasgow Rangers meet again on Wednesday night in a huge night of football with PSV bidding to get back into the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2018/19. Rangers meanwhile are looking to end a 12 year exile from Europe’s premier club competition.
It was an enthralling game in Glasgow as PSV took the lead through midfield enforcer Ibrahim Sangare before Gers summer signing Antonio Colak finished off a beautifully crafted team move to level the scores. Former Derby attacker Tom Lawrence then put the Teddy Bears ahead, firing in a free kick which benefitted from a poor mistake by PSV goalkeeper Walter Benitez. Rangers couldn’t hold on though as Armando Obispo powered a header in from a corner to ensure we head into the second leg all square.
It will be a fascinating clash in the Netherlands as two Dutch managers in Ruud van Nistelrooy and Giovanni van Branckhorst go toe to toe, both looking to guide their sides to the riches of the Champions League.
PSV were Europa Conference League quarter-finalists last season and have made it to this qualifying round having got the better of French side AS Monaco 3-2 after extra time.
The Dutch side will be looking to preform better than they did at this stage last season when they fell at the final hurdle to Benfica, having played against 10 men for an hour.
That loss to Benfica was PSV’s second loss in the UEFA Champions league qualifying stages with their record standing at one win and two defeats. Their sole success was against Russian side BATE Borisov in 2018/19, the last time PSV made it to the group stages.
Perhaps crucially from a Rangers perspective, PSV have only recorded three wins from their past eight home fixtures in European competition, having drawn three and lost two.
However, PSV have won 15 of the 20 matches they have played in UEFA competitions where they have gone into a second leg with home advantage and the scores level. Rood-witten have won one and lost one of the two European ties they have played in which the away first leg finished 2-2. In the 1995/96 season they lost out to Barcelona in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, whilst they defeated LOSC Lille in the 2010/11 Europa League round of 32.
The Gers will be looking to keep up their impressive run of form in Europe having progressed to the Europa League Final last season defeating the likes of Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig along the way. Unfortunately, they lost out to Frankfurt in the final on penalties but it was still a tournament to be proud of.
Rangers will be seeking to improve on their record in third qualifying round matches having reached this stage twice since their last Champions League appearance in the 2010/11 season, with both defeats coming against Swedish side Malmo.
The Teddy Bears looked in serious danger of going out in the last qualifying round having lost 2-0 away to Royale Union Saint-Gilliose in Belgium. Once again though, the intense Ibrox atmosphere proved the difference maker as they smashed past the Belgian side 3-0 to book this tie against PSV.
This game being away from Ibrox could be key as the home atmosphere was hugely important to Rangers stunning Europa League run last season. The Gers have lost three out of their last four European away matches, the outlier being their 4-2 success over Borussia Dortmund. Ibrox has been the arena where Rangers have produced most of their special European games however, if they can repeat their performance against Dortmund in the Netherlands, Rangers will stand a strong chance of progressing.
Another good omen for Rangers is how the Light Blues are unbeaten in three visits to the Netherlands going back to 2004. It’s a record they need to maintain to make it to the promised land of the Champions League group stages.
Rangers will be without one of their key players for this clash. Alfredo Morelos has not travelled to Eindhoven even though he has scored 32 goals in 62 European games. This is due to concerns about attitude and fitness and Giovanni van Bronckhorst may have made this decision off the back of the Colombian’s sending off in Rangers last match against Hibernian. Croatian striker Antonio Colak is expected to continue up front, he has four in his last five.
Head to Head
In total, Rangers and PSV have met eight times with Rangers having won three of the last seven meetings. In the 2010/11 PSV recorded their first victory over Rangers winning 1-0 in a Europa League round of 16 tie. Prior to this season that was the last meeting between the two sides.
Three of the last five European Cup games between the pair have gone the way of the Glasgow giants with two wins at the Philips Stadium and one at Ibrox.
Both sides have three wins and two draws in their last five games.
For PSV their main danger man will be Dutch winger Cody Gakpo.
Gakpo, who is strongly linked with Manchester United, is a player who is comfortable across the front three but is best suited to operating on the left wing where he can cut inside on his favoured right foot.
The Dutchman is a strong technical dribbler and is adept at using this technical ability to get out of tight pressure situations where he is being closed down by defenders.
He is most at home in the final third cutting inside and and hitting curled, floating crosses which led to Gakpo getting 15 assists last season. He also grabbed an assist in the daw last Tuesday.
Gakpo is a high-volume scoring winger and notched 21 goals in 3,403 minutes in the 2021/22 season. He is a serious threat and Rangers must keep him as quiet as possible.
Rangers chief threat is also a winger and it is dynamic attacker Ryan Kent.
An incredibly skilful winger Kent, like Gakpo, is capable of operating in any position across the front three but is most natural over on the left wing, where he is able to cut inside on his stronger right foot.
His importance to Rangers can be seen in the amount of space he creates for others, his skill and speed draws defenders towards him which creates space for others. His ability to beat a man with ease is also very important for the Gers going forward.
In a total of 43 European games for Rangers he has five goals and 12 assists.
If Kent is on form in Eindhoven, PSV will find him a real handful and he could give Rangers a great chance of progressing.
Kick off is 8pm Wednesday night, don’t miss it.