Hibs take heed of Rangers' Euro lessons and plan to be cut-throat in Rijeka

Rangers’ Champions League dismissal will serve as a cautionary tale for Hibs as they work at prolonging their European involvement beyond this evening’s meeting with Rijeka.

By Moira Gordon
Thursday, 12th August 2021, 6:00 am

As the Easter Road players were en route to Croatia on Tuesday night for their Europa Conference League third qualifying round second leg, they tracked the Ibrox side’s calamitous display against Malmo, surprised at the Premiership champions’ failure to capitalise on an early lead and the extra man advantage they enjoyed for the entire second half.

“It just shows you that when you get to this level you need to be clinical, need to take your chances,” stated Hibs defender McGinn. “We saw that the other night with Rangers, you need to be cut-throat. If you want to go through, you need to take your chances.

“We were travelling so we got some of it on our phones. We were dipping in and out but, watching the first half, we thought they were going to win by quite a few. If anything, the sending off derailed them.”

Hibs defender Paul McGinn snuffs out the threat of Rijeka dangerman Josip Drmic in last week's first leg at Easter Road.

Finding the correct response to evolving circumstance remains part of the Leith side’s maturing process on a stage where they are not yet regulars. In their opening tie, they had to adapt to officials’ decisions. They were also taught a valuable lesson at Easter Road last week when they could have established a comfortable lead over Goran Tomic’s team but couldn’t make the most of openings. That bit them on the backside when a lapse in concentration saw that first leg end 1-1.

“You can’t switch off at any time,” said the right-back. “These boys have played at a high level, some scoring in the Bundesliga, so we know we need to be switched on the whole game.”

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard said “a bit of fear and panic set in” as the Ibrox side were toppled and McGinn says that underlines the importance of Hibs maintaining their concentration.

“In Europe you are likely to come across different styles and you have to adapt,” he said. “But [last week], I thought we did well, especially as they have quite an attacking team. If you can control the ball as a team then defending becomes easier. Hopefully it will be the same on Thursday.”

Whether reacting to the heat – the average daily temperature in Rijeka at the moment is 34C degrees – or a change in tactics from their hosts, Hibs expect to face a “different beast”.

“I think the heat will do that automatically. We know that they will probably have more spells with the ball than they did at Easter Road and just need to make sure they don’t punish us.

“We might need to take it up to another level but I thought the first game was one we dominated and you could see they were happy to take the draw.”

Hibs have shown their ability to sit in patiently and then pick off opponents with some classic counter-attacking.

“Celtic and Rangers are good examples of teams we play who have a more European style and try to dominate the ball and lure you in. You have to be patient and stay focused and take your chances when they come. Other teams in Scotland are more direct but facing those different styles helps.”

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