Former Rangers midfielder Pedro Mendes has identified four key men that Steven Gerrard’s side should beware ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash against Braga.
The Portuguese side travel to Ibrox for the first leg of the last 32 tie tomorrow night off the back of an excellent run of form that has seen them collect nine wins and a draw from their last 10 games, scoring 24 goals in that time.
Ex-Portugal international Mendes, who made 45 appearances for the ‘Gers between 2008 and 2010, has pinpointed a dangerous attacking quartet in Ruben Amorim’s squad who could cause trouble for the Light Blues.
He told BBC Sportsound [via Daily Record]: “You have Paulinho, the striker. Francisco Trincao, who Barcelona just signed. Ricardo Horta from the other side and Galeno. So from these four, three of them will play. I’m not sure which three will play.
“Trincao is very technical, very quick. A very good player. Paulinho has the the killer touch, he’s the number nine. Horta comes inside from the right and scores a lot of goals.
“The players up front will cause the Rangers defence a lot of problems. They’re not a team that sits back, they like to have the ball and create chances to score. They’ll for sure want to score at Ibrox so they can have a more comfortable home game.”
Mendes is right to alert Rangers to the scoring threat of Horta and Paulinho in particular. The pair have scored 17 goals each this season, with the former doing so from the wide positions. He has netted six times in Braga’s European campaign so far and scored five goals since the start of 2020, with his 2.5 shots per game average the second highest in their squad.
Centre-forward Paulinho tops that particular metric among Braga’s players, with 2.9 shots per game. He netted four times in the Europa League group stage and also has nine goals in the Portuguese top flight so far this term, despite a quiet streak that has seen him fire blanks in his last three matches.
Trincao, who will join Barcelona this summer in a £26m deal (as per BBC), provides a creative outlet from the right for Braga, with six assists this season, and has scored three goals so far in 2020 and four for the campaign in total. He is also adept at taking on opponents, averaging 1.8 successful dribbles per game.
Galeno, who can operate on either flank, has five goals and eight assists to his name in 2019/20, although he has been in and out of the team in recent weeks. He has averaged two successful dribbles per game and drawn 2.4 fouls per game this season, indicating that he can be a real handful for opponents to stifle.
In Braga’s 1-0 win at league leaders Benfica at the weekend, Amorim went with an attacking trio of Paulinho at centre-forward flanked by Horta on the left and Galeno on the right, with the latter being substituted for Trincao in the second half (as per TransferMarkt). That may give an indication as to the make-up of the Portuguese side’s attack at Ibrox, but whatever the composition of the front three may be, Mendes has rightly warned Rangers of the fearsome attacking threat that tomorrow’s opponents are likely to pose.
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