RANGERS' Europa League campaign got off to a fine start at Ibrox a fortnight ago when Steven Gerrard's team picked up all three points against Dutch side Feyenoord.

It was crucial that Gerrard's side got off to a winning start as Rangers plot a route to the knockout stages of the competition and European football after Christmas. And, in truth, the scoreline could have been a lot greater against Jaap Stam's side: Rangers battered Feyenoord over the 90 minutes and could have easily won by two or three.

Next up, Gerrard's side fly out to Switzerland to face reigning Super League champions Young Boys. The Swiss side should prove tougher opposition than Feyenoord; after all, Young Boys dropped into the Europa League after losing narrowly to Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League play-offs and Gerardo Seoane's side finished 20 points clear of second-placed Basel in the league last season.

On paper, Young Boys look as though they will present much stiffer opposition than Feyenoord did in Rangers' Group G opener, but there are issues apparent throughout the Swiss team that Gerrard can take advantage of to seal a second successive group stage win.


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Let's start at the back. The most glaring hole in this Young Boys team at present is on the right-hand side of the defence. Saidy Janko, formerly of Celtic, has been starting at right-back so far this season with Frederik Sorensen, on loan from Koln, next to him at right centre-back.

Janko is a particularly weak link in this Young Boys team and generally struggles to close down opposition wingers adequately. Many of the chances that Young Boys have conceded this season have came via opposition forays down the left flank, where Janko is either too slow to react to properly in closing down a cross, or on other occasions is simply beaten too easily. 

Janko has a defensive duel success rate of 62% in all competitions this season, which isn't great, but this figure drops to between 40 and 50% when playing against Switzerland's better teams and in Europe. Whoever starts on the left for Rangers on Thursday night - whether it be Scott Arfield, Sheyi Ojo or Brandon Barker - will be crucial to Rangers' chances of getting a goal.

Sorensen, who plays right next to Janko, has looked a little suspect defensively himself on occasion this season. The 27-year-old looks especially slow on the turn and hesitant in the tackle. If Rangers' left-winger (or left-sided attacking midfielder) can drag Janko out wide, gaps can appear between the right-back and Sorensen that Alfredo Morelos can then occupy and cause all sorts of problems for the hosts.


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Set-pieces could prove crucial in Bern, too, as Young Boys regularly fail to defend these adequately. Corners leading to goalscoring opportunities are a regular theme for the Swiss side, as are free-kicks from wide areas. Defenders often lose track of their men and chances are conceded fairly often; something that Gerrard can take advantage of on Thursday night.

In possession, Seoane's team aren't great on the ball and have an overall passing accuracy of 81% in all competitions this season, averaging around 430 passes per game. To put those figures into context, Rangers attempt an additional 150 passes per game with an overall accuracy of around 87%.

One player who could run the midfield for Young Boys, however, is central midfielder Michel Aebischer. The 22-year-old is tidy in possession, keeps the Swiss side ticking over in the middle of the park and has two goals and four assists to his name so far this season. Man-marking Aebischer out of the game could be a prudent approach for Gerrard to take on Thursday evening.

In attack, target man Jean-Pierre Nsame is the most obvious goalscoring threat for Young Boys. The Cameroon forward has 12 goals in 14 appearances this season, is the Super League's top scorer and has the highest expected goals (xG) of any player in the Swiss top flight. All 12 of Nsame's goals this season have come from inside the box and the forward will need to be marked tightly - and closed down abruptly - if the Rangers defence are to stop him adding to his tally.


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Rangers' chances of leaving Switzerland with all three points have been handed a boost, too, with the news that Ivory Coast international Roger Assane and Miralem Sulejmani, formerly of Ajax and Benfica, both look set to miss Thursday night's game as they recover from their respective injuries.

With a number of first-team players set to miss out on the second Group G fixture, Rangers find themselves travelling to Bern at an ideal time. Young Boys are understrength and have yet to recapture the imperious form they displayed regularly last season. Yes, there are some excellent players who will surely start, but there remain holes in this team and if Gerrard can take full advantage, then Rangers have an excellent opportunity to make it two wins from two in the Europa League.