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Thursday’s soccer news starts with games in Scotland’s Premiership, with the league returning to action for the first time since November 12. That starts later today with James Sands and Malik Tillman’s Rangers hosting Hibernian and continues with the rest of the league in action on Saturday.
Sands and Tillman’s Rangers resume the season in 2nd-place with 33 points from 15 games played. They trail leaders Celtic by nine points. Rangers beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in a home friendly on December 10 with Tillman scoring in the 14th and 21st minutes before subbing out at halftime. Sands went the distance in that game.
Over their opening 15 games in the Premiership, Rangers have lost at Celtic and at st Johnstone, drawing at Hibernian, home to Livingston, and 1-1 at St Mirren in their last game before the break. They also lost all six of their Champions League group stage games from September 6 through November 1. With the focus now on the Premiership before the League Cup semifinal on January 15 and their start in the Scottish Cup on January 21, there’s the pressure of not letting the gap at the top of the table widen. That ended up being four points last season, with 28 points separating 2nd and 3rd and another 13 between 3rd and 4th. In 2020-21, Rangers won the league 25 points ahead of Celtic. Rangers plays a Hibs team in 8th-place on 20 points, a point behind the teams in 5th through 7th-place.
“You’ll see some changes quite quickly in terms of structure, how we want to press, how we want to defend and certainly one or two players where they are able to go in possession as well,” new Rangers manager Michael Beale said. “I am not overlooking the fact that I have come in midseason and not had a pre-season but I do have an advantage of working with these players so there’s part of us adapting more quickly. I think they will see a team close to the style of what they were used to when I was here under Steven, in terms of the way we want to play and play front-foot attacking football.”
Cameron Carter Vickers’s Celtic is at Alfredo Morales’s Aberdeen on Saturday, with the league leaders only losing once this season with no draws. That was at St Mirren on September 18, ending a six-game win streak to start the season but with Celtic responding by winning eight in a row. Celtic spent part of the World Cup break in Australia, losing to Sydney FC and drawing in regulation with Everton. They lost 4-3 to Rennes in a friendly on December 10 in Portugal.
Morales’s Aberdeen is in 3rd-place with 25 points, losing their opener 2-0 at Celtic and trying to put together back-to-back wins for the third time this season. The over a month long break between winning 1-0 at home over Dundee United now sees them playing the league leaders and then 2nd-place Rangers.
“We’ve worked really hard on a game plan for Saturday against Celtic and then on the Tuesday against Rangers then we’re away to St. Mirren who are having a great run at the moment as well on Christmas Eve,” Aberdeen manager Jim Goodwin said. “The fixtures don’t come much tougher as far as we’re concerned. We’re really looking forward to it and the players are ready, it’s as simple as that.”
Copa por Mexico: UNAM Pumas vs Cruz Azul at 8pm and Chivas vs Mazatlan at 10pm ET.
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Photo by Jeff Holmes – PA Wire via ZUMA Press – ISIPhotos.com
Filed Under: Americans Abroad, Featured, News Update, Soccer News
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