Alfredo Morelos vs Ross County
Alfredo Morelos arrived at Ibrox in the summer transfer window with a prolific scoring record in Finland and a fair amount of interest. Could he produce the goods in a stronger league in Scotland? Let’s take a look at his season so far.
Morelos was a second half substitute in Rangers’ season opener at Motherwell, however, Caixinha gave him a starting berth in the home opener against Hibs. Morelos smashed a header in after three minutes but despite this Rangers then got a man sent off late in the first half which led to Morelos chasing pairs of boots for the rest of the game
Next up was Hearts. Hearts played with a low block which restricted Morelos to 0 shots in the game from open play and a pretty drab performance on the whole. Not for the lack of trying but Morelos had very little service hence the very little output. Morelos breakout game came at Dingwall on Rangers’ visit to play Ross County.
Build Up vs County
Rangers have struggled to play through the thirds from the back through to front so when options were scarce Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso amongst others would look for the dropping Morelos to take the ball into feet or knock it on to advancing players. Morelos showed a fantastic appetite in fighting off two pretty aggressive centre backs, at times dominating in the air. Morelos doesn’t have a particularly dominant frame, however, he has a tremendous low centre of gravity when taking the ball to feet which acts as a brick wall to defenders trying to regain the ball.
Creation vs County
Kenny Miller tends to play the deeper of the striker partnership, expected to drop into holes behind the opposition midfield and link the play. Morelos the more traditional number nine of the pair tends to play between the width of the 18-yard box ready to pounce at any point. Certainly, in the first half, Morelos showed a willingness to drop a little deeper and play short passes to the likes of Candeias and Tavernier so they could put crosses into the box. One moment, in particular, he dropped to play a simple pass but dragged an opposing centre back with him which exposed the space in behind the defence but the pass was too strong. In the second half, Morelos looked to help expose this further with an advancing Ross County back line. In many instances, he broke wide or slightly deeper to accept a ball where the end game didn’t have Morelos shooting in mind.
In the 49th minute after a rather poor first touch, Morelos showed the composure to re-set himself then play an astutely weighted ball for Kranjcar to take in his stride in a promising position but sadly blaze the shot over the bar. Seven minutes later again a direct ball was flicked on by Morelos but to no avail, as Niko Kranjcar failed to anticipate him knocking it on which would have led to the Croatian being through on goal with just Scott Fox in goal to beat.
Morelos’ final creative involvement was arguably his most pleasing, in the 77th minute Rangers pierced County open through Herrera linking the play to the on rushing Pena who then combined with Morelos for a shot on goal. Most impressive was not the through ball creating the chance but the chess match with the centre back beforehand. It maybe went unseen on the camera shot but Morelos fools Davies by starting to run behind the defence into space then cuts it short to receive the ball from Pena and then play him in. From open play, Morelos had the highest Expected Assist and Expected Goal for Rangers in what was an impressive outing in only his third league start.
Shots vs County
Shots have been few and far between in Morelos three starts this season with only 4 shots from open play which all came in this game at Dingwall. Morelos started with a flash more than a bang when after 15 seconds he had a wild shot after winning an aerial duel. A signal of intent.
In and around the box Morelos’ has tunnel vision – he’s shooting and who can blame him? The best instance of this was in the 27th minute when after neat build up play Morelos could’ve have slipped a through ball through to Kenny Miller for a terrific chance but chose to take an extra touch and shoot himself which was blocked. Strikers choosing low probability shots over passing to players in better positions – some things never change.
Morelos scored his first league goal from open play of the season around the half hour mark when after terrific wing play by Daniel Candeias, James Tavernier reached the byline and cut a high floated cross to the centre of the box where Morelos pretty much stood still and waited then generated a powerful downward header into the back of the net. Ten minutes later Scott Fox took an age to clear the ball in what will be one of the gaffes of the season which let Morelos dispossess him and place the ball into an empty net. An almost laughable mistake but Morelos consistently pressurises the back four of opponents which usually leads to fouls or winning the ball back. His hard work paid off this time.
Feed El Bufalo
Morelos was superb in all facets of the game in only his third start and at twenty-one years old Rangers look to have an asset on their hands on and off the park. Going forward, Rangers have to find him in the box as often as possible as like any number 9 he needs chances.
Alfredo Morelos may just be the number 9 Rangers fans have been craving. Feed El Bufalo and he will score.