Livingston vs Rangers

After a solid pre-season that featured matches against Sunderland, Blackpool, West Ham and Tottenham, Rangers opened their league campaign with a tough away match at Livingston.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst would include three new summer signings in his first starting eleven of the season, with John Soutar partnering Connor Goldson in central defence, Tom Lawrence featuring as the attacking midfield lynchpin and Antonio Colak as the central striker.

First Half Analysis

Left Side Combinations

On the left side Rangers set up with Kent and Barisic occupying the wide area, with Glen Kamara and John Lundstram positioned in the half space. As well see in these clips this often caused a closure of the space and helped Livingston maintain their defensive shape as the ball often stayed on the outside of the defensive block.

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Right Side Combinations

While Rangers set up in a similar fashion on the right side, the penetration that Goldson, Wright and Tavernier managed to create was far superior than their teammates on the opposite side counterparts.

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Rangers found themselves 1-0 down at half-time due to a miscommunication between Barisic and Souttar, that led to a fine finish from Nouble after four minutes.

While Rangers dominated much of the possession it was clear some alterations had to be made in order to gain a better balance of penetration on each side.

Second Half Analysis

Half Time Alterations

In this video we’ll see what tweaks Van Bronckhorst made at half-time, after he had replaced Scott Wright with another debutant in Malik Tillman.

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Second Half Right Side Combinations

With Lawrence moving across to occupy the inside right channel and Tavernier moving forward to create more natural attacking width, Goldson was now given greater license to step into midfield and take advantage of the space.

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Second Half Left Side Combinations

On the left side we saw an alteration to Barisic’s starting position, by taking up a more central position it led to a shift in Livingston’s defensive block which ended up affording Kent more space in his 1v1 vs full back Devlin.

With Rangers able to convert their ball possession into more chances and the altered positioning leading to a better spread of the threat, Rangers come away with a 2-1 victory and can feel unlucky that their winning margin wasn’t larger.

Rangers Counter Press

One final point I wanted to raise about the game refers to Rangers defensive structure after the turn over occurs.

Van Bronckhorst’s system has a strong focus on placing players in the central channels of the field, which not only gives the team more passing options but also allows for greater speed in pressing the ball should they lose possession.

With Livingston staying so deep it was obvious that Rangers ability to prevent Livingston counter attacking was going to be a vital part of the game.

In these clips we see Rangers players work well to prevent Livingston from starting an attack, however when the home side did manage to evade pressure there was an obvious use of tactical fouling to cut off the attack before it began. This resulted in numerous yellow cards which is a balance that has to be accepted when defending in this manner.

While much has been made of the apparent slow start to this match, I personally felt Rangers looked in control throughout and the tactical tweaks made at half time only stamped that authority down further.

The penetrative movements centrally are perhaps something we will see more of against sides who sit in the low block, especially when the ability to cross the ball isn’t on or the attackers are out-numbered inside the box.

A solid start to the season for Rangers ahead of their crucial Champions League match with Union on Tuesday 2nd August.

About the Author

Picture of Alistair Bain

Alistair Bain

Alistair is a native of Hamilton, Scotland and is an A License qualified coach who has 20 years of experience within the football industry. Currently residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, Alistair's resume includes a variety of roles across football clubs in Scotland, England and the United States.

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