Based on data alone, Rangers’ 3-1 win over Hibs this weekend could’ve hardly been more convincing. 

According to StatstBomb, Nick Montgomery’s side had just a four percent chance of leaving Glasgow with three points. 0.64 of Hibs' 0.84xG created on the day derived from the chance leading to their goal when Mzyiane levelled proceedings in first-half injury time. The visitors attempted just two shots after the break.

And yet, was it too easy for Hibs to break into the final third, especially before the break? Will better decision-makers exploit those same margins in next week’s Old Firm? Let’s take a closer look.

Hibs, as depicted by their pass network below charting the average passing position of each player, take the most risks outside of the Old Firm with their style of play. Leaving wingers high and wide wherever possible and pushing full-backs forward in the build-up.

This gave Montgomery’s men the numbers to exploit any gaps that appeared. Equally, in moments Rangers got their structure wrong behind the ball and surrendered possession with unforced errors. What does this mean? A team’s 'rest defence' describes their defensive structure in possession to guard against counterattacks and keep opponents from breaking up spells of pressure. John Souttar, Connor Goldson and Tavernier have all discussed Clement’s focus on the Ibrox side's structure “behind the ball” in recent months.

The biggest factor in the transitions Clement’s side did concede before half-time was the absence of wingers - and how Rangers’ attacking shape impacted their defensive shape immediately after losing possession.

All things considered, Rangers have coped very well without many, or any, wingers for stretches of this year. Clement inherited a squad with few wide ball-carriers and injuries to Abdallah Sima, Oscar Cortes, Dujon Sterling and Ross McCausland haven’t helped. Ridvan Yilmaz limping off on international duty further weakened the dynamics on either wing as Borna Barisic was handed a rare start.

Clement wants his full-backs and wingers to alternate between occupying narrow and wide positions. When Rangers build play, for example, you’ll often see the back four spaced out and one of the wingers tuck infield. Whereas when the ball reaches the final third those roles will switch, to allow wide players to carry at pace on the wings and full-backs to move narrow and protect against transitions. 

The home side’s pass network from Saturday’s game shows that generally, it was the full-backs providing width in the attacking phase. Given that Barisic exclusively moves wide in the final third and Scott Wright was operating in the pockets.

On the left, with Barisic uncomfortable moving infield and Silva not a natural wide player, the home side were a little static. As will be elaborated upon, it was Hibs’ right side that always proved the origin point for counterattacking opportunities.

Here’s an early example. As Rangers take a throw, Diomande, Lundstram and Barisic form this “behind the ball” structure. They’re stationed to get the ball into the final third and keep it there.

However, as Lundstram takes a heavy touch, he needs help from his teammate. Normally, Clement would instruct his winger (Silva) to push wide and stretch the defence while his full-back (Barisic) remained narrow to guard against the type of transition Rangers concede off the back of an individual error. However, the two players naturally rotate in the other direction and Youan can quickly exploit the error.

Lundstram’s touch is a greater issue than Barisic’s run, you can forgive the left-back for expecting the ball to be controlled and played wide directly or into the feet of Silva. Silva is slow to react and Chris Cadden can start an attack through the centre of the pitch which now appears unguarded. 

Here’s another early warning sign. This time, Todd Cantwell is making up the left-sided triangle with Lundstram having dropped into the defence. Barisic is situated wide with Silva in the half-space.

As Souttar looks to start a third-man passing move, Cantwell and Youan form the key battle. Both sides of this duel are thinking forward and whichever team loses the ball here will be vulnerable.

As it turns out, Silva’s pass is slack and Hibs break forward. Given Tavernier has moved ahead of the ball from right back, anticipating that possession is safe, the right side of defence is unguarded. Myziane also gambles and stays high, as Youan did on the other flank.

It’s important to mention that outside of the goal, Hibs only created shots from distance in these moments. Rangers’ analysis of the situation would likely focus as much on the detail of simple passes as the detail of structure. What’s more, in the latter example, look at the gap Rangers can exploit if Silva makes his pass.

The point is, a mixture of no wingers, no Ridvan and these sloppy moments left the centre of the pitch looking unguarded in the first half at Ibrox. Especially when Lundstram overlapped on the left (as materialised for the goal) to offer an extra option or dropped deep to build play.

One of the reasons Ridvan has made Ranegrs look a whole lot more fluid is because, in situations like the one below, he’ll attack inside the pitch. A far more uncomfortable area for opponents to defend than the byline.

Instead, it’s Barisic’s natural game to hit the byline and cross, going around the opposition shape. Of course, he can fashion excellent deliveries, as Cyriel Dessers’ first header of the game showed, but overall there’s a reason Clement has decided it’s the Turkish left-back who better suits his football.

All of these themes materialised for the Hibs goal. After Rangers break up the pitch and Lundstram makes a wide run, Barisic moves the ball wide instead of playing the obvious inside pass to Diomande - who lets him know what he thinks about it.

Does this in itself cause the turnover? Not necessarily. Although the extra seconds before Silva plays the pass infield allow Hibs time to recover, Diomande also gets his pass slightly wrong. 

Barisic then moves forward at the wrong moment, there's more value if the left-back stays behind the ball in this instance, or one of Lundstram and Silva tucks infield into the highlighted gap.

After Will Fish regains the ball, it’s too easy for the visitors to attack directly because of the lack of protection in the centre. Tavernier and Diomande both press the ball while Barisic, Lundstram, Silva and Cantwell are all wide. Look at the numbers Hibs have in the centre compared to Rangers.

There were plenty of preventable moments before the final shot, however. Souttar was turned too easily by Youan, Tavernier failed to track Myziane all the way and Lundstram got caught wrong-sided as a pass was played behind the defensive line.

When key players are back, Rangers won’t look as open to central transitions as they did on Saturday.

It was telling that after Sterling came on to play wide on the right and then moved to left-back when McCausland entered the fray, Hibs’ attacking threat was limited. The visitors made 13 successful passes or carries into the final third before 65 minutes and only three thereafter. When Clement had a full complement of players in January and February, Rangers were controlling games and counterattacks. As covered at the time the Ibrox side were hardly conceding any chances. There's a cost to the limited options the Belgian boss has worked with for months since arriving. 

What Saturday demonstrated was the link between attack and defence. The quicker round pegs can be placed into round holes in the attack, the better Rangers’ defence will look.