Rangers host Kilmarnock at Ibrox Stadium in round two of the Scottish Premiership 2022/23 season. The hosts started the season on a positive note after earning a 2-1 victory away at Livingston. Kilmarnock, on the other hand, marked their return to the Scottish top division with a 1-1 draw against Dundee United. Both teams have the momentum going into this game, with the Rangers being the favourites to take three points.
Rangers made a comeback in the second half to seal three points against Livingston. Scott Arfield and James Tavernier were on the scoresheet for the Gers. Rangers had 79.42% possession of the ball and dominated the match. The above viz shows the shot map of the team. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men attempted 17 shots and hit the target six times. The xG rate of the team was 2.11.
Kilmarnock also had a decent outing as the team tried to show dominance against Dundee United. They had 56% ball possession and attempted 17 shots, with six being on target. Both these teams attempted the same number of shots in their respective matches. Kilmarnock’s xG rate in the match was 1.59.
Now let us look at three key points that one can expect from the match between the two teams.
Rangers’ tactical change in the formation
Rangers initially started the match with a 4-1-4-1 formation. This formation includes a defensive midfielder whose main job is to sit back and act as a third centre-back. This allows the full-backs to make forward runs and join the attack. Due to this formation, James Tavernier was able to score goals in double figures last season, and this season, he has already opened his account. In the last match, the manager made a tactical change by introducing another defensive midfielder to the side in the last minutes of the match to secure three points. He might do the same thing in the upcoming matches.
Threat from the flanks
In the opening fixture, both teams were effective from the flanks. Rangers created 49 positional attacks in the match and were successful ten times. The above viz shows that Rangers created 33 positional attacks from the flanks, mostly from the right side. Kilmarnock, on the other hand, created 31 positional attacks and were successful 11 times. They created 25 attacks from the flanks, and most were from the right side. This shows that the wingers and the full-backs are likely to remain busy in the match. However, we can expect Rangers to create some chances through the middle.
High interceptions rate
Rangers are likely to dominate the possession and will deliver threat-creating passes into dangerous areas of the opposition. Last time, they saw 59 interceptions made by Livingston, and this time, the numbers might go up or remain the same.
Kilmarnock made 63 interceptions themselves, most of them inside their half. The above viz shows that their defence can sense the danger and intercept crosses and passes delivered into the penalty area. In the last match, Livingston made more than 90% of the interceptions in the defensive third, and we can expect the same in this match. Rangers need to be accurate with their passing, and the players need to find spaces inside the box to attempt shots towards the opposition goal.
Rangers will be without John Souttar, and this could open the door for Ben Davies to get his first start in the Scottish Premiership. The Gers are unlikely to make other changes to the team. Kilmarnock have no new injury concerns and might line up in the same formation.
Rangers will enter this match as the favourites. Both teams will focus on attacking from the flanks and make the necessary changes to stop the crosses from getting into the penalty box. Giovanni van Bronckhorst will look for back-to-back victories and stay on the heels of Celtic.