Groningen get their season underway on Thursday as they face Scottish side Aberdeen in the Europa League 2nd play-off round.

  • By Michael Bell
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gron nbvHaving not played in Europe since the 2007/08 season, Groningen qualified for the Europa League after beating AZ Alkmaar 3-0 in the end of season play-offs. However they will need to get through two qualifying rounds before properly entering the competition, starting with Aberdeen.

Erwin van Looi’s side have been active in the transfer market this summer, replacing striker Richairo Zivkovic with Danny Hoesen, while also sealing a deal for the talented winger Jarchinio Antonia from Go Ahead Eagles. Both Filip Kostic and Tjarron Chery are still at the club despite being linked with big money moves away from the Euroborg.

Signs in pre-season have been good for Groningen with two friendly wins out of two, and they will go into the clash with Aberdeen in confident mood.

Likely Groningen line-up: Padt; Hateboer, Botteghin, Kappelhof, Burnet; Kieftenbeld, Chery, Lindgren; Van der Velden, Hoesen, Kostic

Aberdeen finished third last year in the SPL, and entered the Europa League in the first qualifying round, setting up the Groningen tie by hammering Latvian side Daugava Riga 8-0 on aggregate.

The Scottish side have a talented squad filled with attacking options like former Blackburn forward David Goodwillie, and Adam Rooney, who netted five goals over the two leg win in the last round. Derek McInnes’s side are unbeaten in six matches since returning from their summer holiday’s, winning five of those.

Possible Aberdeen line-up: Langfield, Considine, Reynolds, Logan, Jack, Robson, Flood, Hayes, McGinn, Taylor, Rooney

Key Players:

Filip Kostic (Groningen):

The tricky Serbian was one of the star players in the Eredivisie last season, and he will look to inspire Groningen into the next round. The left winger is fast, full of skill, and has an eye for goal, which makes him the one to watch for the Aberdeen defence.

Danny Hoesen (Groningen)

This season will be make or break for the 23-year-old striker who struggled to break into the Ajax first team, while a loan move to PAOK last season was also a disappointment. Hoesen will now be a starter for Groningen, and its time for him to prove that he does have the talent that made him a hot prospect when he was younger. Last season Hoesen netted for Ajax against Barcelona in the Champions League, and Groningen fans will be hoping the tall forward can recreate that against Aberdeen.

Adam Rooney (Aberdeen)

The 26-year-old Irish striker netted nine in 18 matches for Aberdeen last season, and has continued that form into the start of this campaign, netting five in two matches. Likely to get the nod up front ahead of new signing David Goodwillie, the Groningen defence will need to stay strong to prevent Rooney from adding to his already impressive tally in the competition.

Conclusion:

Last season was a disappointing one for Dutch club’s in Europe, with Utrecht exiting at this stage last year to Luxembourg side Dudelange, and its important that Groningen don’t make the same mistake. Aberdeen are a good side, but if Groningen play at their best then they should be able to progress to the next round.

Avoiding defeat on Thursday at Pittodrie will be key, and Groningen will look to get the job done in the return leg next week at the Euroborg.




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