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Rangers: “Baffling” James Tavernier now a real issue

Glasgow Rangers continued their miserable return to the Champions League on Wednesday evening, having suffered a 3-0 defeat away to Serie A side Napoli in what was a truly one-sided affair on the night.

That result saw the hosts secure a 12th consecutive victory in all competitions for the first time in their history, while Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side are now currently nearing a record of their own, as the Old Firm outfit edge closer to what would be the worst group stage record in the tournament’s history.

The Glasgow side appear destined at present to suffer a worse fate than current record holders Dinamo Zagreb who lost all six group games during the 2011/12 season and finished with a goal difference of -19, with that ‘achievement’ one that the Scottish giants will be desperate to avoid.

This latest loss saw an early brace from Giovanni Simeone swiftly shelve any slim hopes of victory for the visitors, albeit with the Gers putting up a brave second-half display to limit any greater damage, with only a late Leo Ostigard header bolstering the scoreline further for Luciano Spalletti’s side.

In truth, it was the same old story as far as the Ibrox outfit are concerned as they were simply outclassed by their in-form opponents, with Van Bronckhorst’s men having found the step up to life in Europe’s premier competition particularly difficult.

Although such struggles could well have been expected from the club’s younger core, there has no doubt been surprise at the lack of impact from the more senior members of the squad, with the likes of Ryan Kent, Alfredo Morelos and James Tavernier having been particularly off the boil of late.

The latter man has looked a shell of the figure who helped drag his side to the Europa League final last term – providing nine goal contributions in just 14 games during that surge to the showpiece – having failed to register a single goal or assist in the group stage thus far.

There have been suggestions that the £9m-rated skipper is struggling for fitness at present, although whatever the case ‘something just doesn’t feel right‘, as stated by Glasgow Live’s Ben Banks.

The 30-year-old’s woes have been somewhat “baffling” according to The Athletic’s Jordan Campbell, with the Englishman having made “such simple mistakes” once again away in Italy, notably losing possession 19 times from his 81 touches.

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Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard reacts after the match

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The £24k-per-week full-back also won just three of his eight total duels and completed only three of his seven crosses, with his match rating of 6.2, as per SofaScore, the second-worst of any player on the day.

To see the Bradford-born ace – who only recently signed a new long-term deal at the club – struggling is a real cause for concern for Van Bronckhorst at present, particularly with no senior alternative to take the right-back’s place in the side.