La Conquête du Monde (The conquest of the world) is a strategy board game that’s probably better known as the board game Risk - the game of global domination. It was invented in 1957 by French film director Albert Lamorisse. On the board are 42 different territories which are grouped into the six continents of the world. In short, the meaning is to place your soldiers in strategic positions so that you can attack your enemy with the throw of three dice. The defender has only two dice and loses the difference in soldiers when attacked. It’s a game of tactics, trying to capture the strategic points of the world so you can eventually conquer it. Years ago my family had a period when we were all into the game and I remember my brother in law getting furious when my sister and I ganged up on him to throw him off a continent. Relationships can be severely tested in a game of Risk.
On Wednesday evening the pitch at Ibrox will be like the map of the world as Stuart McCall and Alan Stubbs play their own game of Risk. This game will be over two legs with both trying to place their soldiers in the best strategic positions to dominate the main parts of the field. Last time out McCall placed his soldiers in a 3-5-2 formation with Lee Wallace and Darren McGregor playing vital rolls attacking down the flanks and Rangers got the upper hand with a 2-0 victory. Since then many supporters have been asking questions about McCall’s tactics after we went 2-0 in front against Hearts. We then capitulated at the end after McCall changed the shape of the defence and Hearts fought back to make it 2-2.
Again on Sunday against Queen of the South with the score at 1-1 he strangely took our forward momentum away by bringing on a defender for an attacker and leaving a knackered looking Kenny Miller on his own up front. This virtually gave Queens a license to attack at will as we had nobody who could link the play forward. When the ball was cleared up field it was virtually just the start of the next Queens attack. A header off the line and an excellent saving clearance by Haris Vuckic saved the day for Rangers on this occasion and we managed to hang on in to the end to advance to the next round tie against Hibs.
Stubbs can set his soldiers up in a defensive setup for this one, as away goals don’t count as double in the play-offs. He also knows Rangers have been at their weakest against counter attacking teams, so I would imagine that he’ll probably set up in a 4-5-1 formation. He’ll be happy to go back to Easter Road with a 0-0 draw on the board and will probably set up for a Queen of the South counter attacking style system. One thing is for sure, this is going to be fought out in the midfield, so the team or manager that gets their tactics right in that area and can conquer the midfield will walk away with the spoils.
McCall has some big decisions to make. His 3-5-2 from the last game against Hibs has hit some setbacks as McCulloch has been blamed for many of the goals Rangers have conceded and the attitude of Bilel Mohsni on Sunday was horrendous to say the least. Not being kitted out to get on the park as a substitute is unforgivable in my eyes and he would have been told by me to sit where he was and enjoy watching his last game in the first team squad. What a pity his attitude stinks as there is a decent player in there somewhere.
Will McCall fall back on Jig? That is where he really will be playing Risk. As I mentioned before, Risk can break relationships and his relationship with Rangers could be nearing the end if he does play him and it goes bottoms up for him. If Jig is fit that will probably be McCall’s biggest decision on whether to play him to go 3-5-2, or go to a 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 with the same players that have played the last few games. In the game of Risk you have to build up a strong back line and build from there, but one of the problems with this Rangers team is we don’t have a strong back line. We don’t have a keeper who’s dominant in the six yard box which puts a hell of a lot of pressure on the defenders to win every ball in the air. As we’ve witnessed in our games recently against Queens we could all see that our defenders often ball watch and lose out in the air, so that’s probably one of our weakest points.
On the positive side, Rangers played some excellent football on Sunday, especially in the first half and if it wasn’t for the excellent Zander Clark in goals for Queens we would have won quite easily.
So, will the managers be playing Risk at Ibrox on Wednesday night or will it be more of a game of chess ending in a draw? The real game of Risk may be played out at Easter Road and in the end someone will have checkmate, but it could even be by the throw of the dice in a penalty shoot-out. Attack or defend: that is the question. Which manager will dare take the biggest risks to conquer the enemy? Which manager will get their strategy right or wrong? Which manager will win the game of Risk?
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