Glasgow Rangers face a tough test tonight in the Champions League as the club play their first group stage tie at Ibrox in the competition since 2010.
Serie A leaders Napoli are the opponents, and with the Light Blues suffering back-to-back 4-0 defeats to Celtic and Ajax respectively, Giovanni van Bronckorst will be looking for a much-improved performance.
With Victor Osimhen and potentially Hirving Lozano out injured for Napoli, Rangers might count themselves lucky, however, they will need to be at their absolute best to gain anything from the match.
The Dutchman has received his own injury boost with the news that James Tavernier will be fit for the game, but his starting XI could change massively from the contest against Ajax.
Although one name should already be on the team sheet as he has been the Ibrox side’s brightest spark of late…
On the chalkboard
There hasn’t been much cheer recently for the Ibrox faithful, with ground lost in the Premiership title race and a Champions League humiliation, tonight’s tie takes on even more significance.
The one positive has been the improvement of Barisic, who was Rangers’ shining light against the Dutch champions with a rating of 6.8 on SofaScore, making 92% of his pass attempts, delivering six crosses into the opposition box, while even having a “super” goal disallowed for offside that might have given the team a glimmer of hope.
Despite ranking behind John Lundstram (7.2) and Steven Davis (7.0) against Celtic, per SofaScore, Barisic (6.8) was arguably the Ibrox side’s biggest attacking threat, bombing up and down the left wing trying to create opportunities for his teammates.
The Croatian had 92 touches during the whole match and delivered 11 crosses, with the sloppy finishing of Antonio Colak to blame for Rangers not scoring at least one goal.
Barisic is very much a player who thrives on confidence and when Van Bronckhorst signed young Turkish left-back Ridvan Yilmaz, it appeared to ignite a fire in the 29-year-old’s stomach.
Has Barisic been Rangers’ best player of late?
With his recent form and ability to be menacing down the left-hand side, the Dutchman should be instructing Barisic to put as many balls into the box as possible tonight.
Hopefully, either Colak or Alfredo Morelos will be able to benefit from his excellent service and a positive result might just kickstart the Light Blues season.