Giovanni van Bronckhorst quite consistently uses two formations 1-4-3-3 and 1-4-2-3-1, but he would be wrong to find any regularity or pattern in these choices. The Dutch manager is characterised by great flexibility, varying the tasks of players even within the same formation and different patterns of play even when keeping a similar team shape. He is able to change the mentality from defensive to offensive, leave three defenders or five in the middle.
Symbolic of his performances at Ibrox are high intensity, high pressing and quick entries from wide zones into the attack.
The classic formation is Morelos on the top flanked by an offensive three midfielders (Kent, Aribo and Hagi) and assisted by the deeper positioned Lundstram and Kamara. The four defenders (Tavernier, Goldson, Bassey, Barisic) generally play in a line and are rarely rotated.
In most defensive phases Rangers change their alignment between 1-4-2-3-1 and 1-4-4-2 in which Aribo’s positioning is crucial. His job is to constantly press on the opponent responsible for deep playmaking (pivot or central midfielder) and to provide assistance to the striker in calmly playing the ball through the defenders. They are not bothered by the opponent’s numerical advantage in the central zone, because the second line of pressure, together with the defenders, play very close to each other not leaving the opponents too much space in this zone. They accept the obvious risk of direct balls played past the second line, so as a rule their pressing decreases as the opponent moves forward in favour of an orderly retreat into their own half, setting up five defenders at the back and closing down passing options around their own penalty.
Rangers’ tactical plan after winning the ball is simple: attack as quickly as possible regardless of the passing method – either with a sequence of quick short passes or one direct to a free player.
They often attack with at least four players at once – two strikers and two wingers. Sometimes one of the central midfielders joins the attack. Kent then positions himself next to Morelos to form a two-man first line of pressure, while Aribo sits high just behind the strikers.