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Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 13:48 UK

Uefa Cup final tactics

UEFA CUP FINAL
Venue: City of Manchester Stadium Date: Wed 14 May Kick-off: 1945 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Scotland, full text coverage on BBC Sport website

By Craig Paterson

Rangers expected starting XI

Walter Smith is not going to tinker with a winning formula, so he will stick with his tried and tested 4-1-4-1 formation.

And in all likelihood the line-up will be the same as the one that started the second leg of the semi-final in Europe.

Brahim Hemdani hasn't been too convincing lately but, having missed just one European tie this season, I can't see him missing out.

It's his job to sit and protect the back four.

Christian Dailly is a more destructive player and offers greater protection in the air but it looks like he will have to be content with a place on the bench.

Kevin Thomson was a slight doubt and it's great to have someone as versatile as Dailly to call upon.

It's not his best position but Steven Davis will get up and down the right flank, while Steven Whittaker offers the same energy on the left.

He's naturally right-sided and can pose an attacking threat cutting inside, while he can deal with long diagonals played out of defence.

As captain, it's Barry Ferguson's job to keep things ticking over in midfield and his ease in possession will be important if Rangers are to prevent Zenit dominating the ball.

Jean-Claude Darcheville will put in a shift on his own up front.

He will chase every lost cause and won't give defenders a moment's peace.

With his troublesome hamstrings, the Frenchman has never lasted 90 minutes, so it's a blow that Daniel Cousin, Darcheville's natural second half replacement, is suspended.

It's Barry Ferguson's job to keep things ticking over in midfield and his ease in possession will be important if Rangers are to prevent Zenit dominating the ball

BBC Sport pundit Craig Paterson

However, Lee McCulloch may just have timed his return from injury to perfection.

You can play it long to big Lee and he will hold it up and bring others into play.

With it being a one-off game, the mentality is different but Rangers will continue to look at building on a platform of not conceding.

The back four have been so impressive during this Uefa Cup run, conceding just two goals in eight matches.

Kirk Broadfoot and Sasa Papac are centre-backs playing at full-back and offer good aerial cover as well as a solid all-round game.

But the bedrock of Rangers' success has been the fantastic partnership of David Weir and Carlos Cuellar.

Weir uses all of his experience to read the game so well and he's a great organiser, while Cuellar has just made block after block during this great run.

If Rangers need a Plan B, Nacho Novo can come on to run the channels and he's scored a few crackers of late.

And, of course, there is Kris Boyd.

The club's top scorer has been used sparingly in Europe but he's an extraordinary poacher and it would be just like him to come off the bench and grab a vital goal.

Zenit St Petersburg tactics

Zenit boss Dick Advocaat prefers a 4-3-3 formation and his attacking style during his time at Ibrox often led to a 4-2-4.

Andrei Arshavin is a class act, who likes to drift between midfield and attack and has license to get wide

BBC Sport pundit Craig Paterson

But he will be denied his strongest line-up due to the suspension of star striker Pavel Pogrebnyak.

Turkish international Fatih Tekke is a strong forward in a similar mould but has not featured much in this tournament.

Andrei Arshavin is a class act, who likes to drift between midfield and attack and has license to get wide.

Most good things go through him but, if Tekke misses out, he could be pushed into a central role to accomodate the loss of Pogrebnyak and that might give Rangers a better chance of shackling his talent.

If Weir and Cuellar can snuff him out it would blunt Zenit's threat significantly.

Alejandro Dominguez is another tricky customer as he showed in the semi-final win over Bayern Munich.

If he plays wide on the right, Whittaker will have to use his natural defensive qualities to double up on him with Papac.

Konstantin Zyrianov and Anatoliy Tymoschuk provide the heartbeat from midfield, both are strong in the tackle and can pick a pass.

MY SPORT: DEBATE

The Russian team is full of technically gifted players who will relish the perfect pitch at the City of Manchester Stadium.

We can expect them to enjoy long spells with the ball and they will be lightening quick to exploit any gaps.

It is therefore vital Rangers maintain the discipline that has taken them this far.

  • Listen to Craig Paterson and the other football pundits on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound programme seven days per week.

    Craig Paterson was speaking to BBC Sport's Colin Moffat


  • see also
    Rangers player profiles
    13 May 08 |  Rangers
    Advocaat's Rangers legacy
    13 May 08 |  Rangers
    Warming up nicely in Manchester
    12 May 08 |  Rangers
    Hateley backing Smith's approach
    12 May 08 |  Rangers
    Zenit St Petersburg v Rangers
    12 May 08 |  Europe
    Racism warning for Zenit support
    12 May 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
    Zenit gear up with Alkmaar draw
    11 May 08 |  Rangers
    Walter's way works for Rangers
    02 May 08 |  Rangers
    Rangers can be legends
    02 May 08 |  Rangers
    The secrets of Rangers' success
    11 Apr 08 |  Rangers


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