One of the key failings last season was Mark Warburton’s failings to address a ropey and inconsistent defence. Pedro Caixinha has acted quickly to change this, recruiting Portugese defenders Bruno Alves and Fabio Cardoso to stabilize the Rangers back line next season. But how exactly will this partnership work? With some help from Portugese bear @BigBenfica9 we look at what each will bring to Ibrox.
Many will already be familiar with Bruno Alves. A household name in native Portugal, he is the 7th most capped player of all time, ahead of the likes of Deco and Eusebio. He has won the league in Portugal, Russia and Turkey and was part of Portugal’s side that clinched Euro 2016 in France.
Being a regular starter at Cagliari, his contribution at the back was decisive in making sure the Italian club would comfortably stay for a second season in Serie A, following their promotion back. He would go on to play 36 out of the 38 League games, starting all of them.
Known for his aggressiveness and recklessness, Alves has reputation for committing high profile fouls – most notably on Diego Costa and Harry Kane – both in FRIENDLY matches. His move to Calgiari is said to have relaxed his aggressive nature somewhat, only picking up 5 yellow and 1 red.
Alves main strength lies in his ability to win the ball in the air, something Rangers have been missing. Of those to contest 50+ aerial duels in Serie A last season, only Wesley Hoedt (84.1%) of Lazio had better aerial success than Alves (79.3%). Considering that the Italian league is home to some of the best defenders currently playing, this is definitely an impressive statistic to have. (WhoScored.com)
A weakness aimed at Alves is his discipline and erratic tackling which could be a cause for concern in big matches. His experience and tactical awareness should eradicate his need for pace. He is extremely comfortable playing the ball out from the back and has been known to hit some deadly free kicks throughout his career. It will be nice to see someone other than Tav have a go from set-pieces.
His new partnership Fabio Cardoso will be less familiar to our fans. Aged 23, Cardoso will move from Vitória FC in Portugal where he played 27 games throughout the season, including 24 of the 34 games in the League.
@BigBenfica19 describes him as “A very technical defender who isn’t afraid to go out with the ball on his feet. What he lacks in positioning he makes up for his athleticism, being relatively fast for a defender. He needs to be faster making decisions but he does make the correct decisions most of the time. He is extremely professional in everywhere he goes to, giving his all for his clubs while trying to maintain a good relationship with the fans.”
Cardoso’s reading of the game is believed to be well beyond his years. Season 2016/17 in Portugal’s top flight saw him make more defensive blocks than any other player. He was also in the top 10 players in terms of clearances – making an average of 5.5 per game. (WhoScored.com)
Reports in Portugal seem very surprised that we are getting the player for only £1.2M as many rate him at a lot higher price.
BigBenfica talks about how the new look centre back pairing will work:
“In terms of their partnership at the back, it has everything to go well on paper: Bruno Alves has the experience to pass on to Fábio Cardoso who can make up for Alves’ lack of pace and agility, while he can clean up any mistakes Cardoso makes. Being from the same country helps, not only to adapting faster, but in also having good communication which is extremely important in any solid defence.”
It’s unclear whether Cardoso will be first pick but with Danny Wilson’s injury status, it’s likely he’ll start the season with Alves at the back. Wit Hill, Senderos and likely Kiernan to be moved on, it will leave the manager with the centre back options of Alves, Cardoso, Wilson, Bates and Aiden Wilson. It wouldn’t be surprising if either Bates or A.Wilson were sent on loan for some first team experience.
Let’s hope this new partnership can stop the team conceding sloppy goals and hopefully it brings out the best in the two full backs.
Follow @BIGBenfica9 on Twitter.