Rangers v PSG, Emirates Cup, August 1, 2009
The SPL champions have so far been enjoying their pre-season schedule having chalked up two wins out of two in Germany over the past several days.
Last Sunday night Rangers claimed a confident 2-nil victory over Nurnberg in which second half strikes by substitutes Steven Naismith and Nacho Novo did the damage for the Gers. The match was also memorable as marking the return to football for Kevin Thomson for the first time in eight months after recovering from a serious knee injury. (Watch here.)
Then, on Tuesday night Rangers beat a team just promoted to the German 5th Division – SC Wiedenbruck – 3-nil, again with all the goals arriving after the break. With several fringe players getting a run-out, Alan Gow came off the bench to tee-up Andrius Velicka (15/8 to score against PSG), while Aaron Ninguez scored with a header and a penalty to wrap up the win. (Watch here.)
Heading to London though, Rangers’ pre-season is set to move up to the next level. Twenty-four hours after playing the Parisians, Walter Smith will be lining up his side to take on the mighty Gunners, with matches against the Middle East satellite clubs of Manchester City and Portsmouth lined up for later in the week.
With financial restrictions in place, Rangers have so far been unable to strengthen his squad this summer. This has afforded opportunities for a group of youngsters to get a taste of first team action, and Andrew Shinnie, Andrew Little and John Fleck (10/3 to score) have all played their parts in the pre-season schedule so far. All three are set to feature in London at the weekend, although the match should also see first-teamers Kris Boyd (11/2 to score first) and Kenny Miller lead the line for the Glaswegians.
Last year’s Ligue 1 season finished in disaster for Paris St. Germain, and the capital side were edged into sixth-spot by Lille thanks to a goal-difference of plus-one. That one extra strike was enough to deny the Parisians European football this season, leading to Paul Le Geun’s departure from the club. Now, under Antoine Kombouare, PSG will be eager to prove that they are still a major force in French football.
Having dismantled Fiorentina 3-nil on Wednesday night in a friendly, PSG should be written off at Rangers’ peril. Up front the team has a natural goalscorer with Guillaume Hoarau (7/4 to score), and aside from Mateja Kezman and Peguy Luyindula who are also available in the attack, PSG have strengthened their forward-line by bringing in former Sochaux goal-getter Mevlut Erding (7/4 to score).
The Parisians are also well-stocked in midfield. Despite the overall disappointment of PSG last year, Benin winger Stephane Sessegnon (4/1 to score) had a tremendous individual season and will undoubtedly cause Rangers problems at the back. Ludovic Giuly (9/4 to score) and Jerome Rothen both add experience across the middle of the park, while aging Claude Makelele remains the anchor in front of the defence.
At the back PSG are also able to boast a mixture of quality, youth and experience, with veteran Gregory Coupet now standing between the sticks after his move from Atleti, with highly-promising teenager Mamadou Sakho in charge at the heart of the defence.
101predicts: Rangers 1 – PSG 2 (8/1)
Full match odds here.