After claiming their first-ever KNVB Cup last season, the Green-White Army will certainly be hungry for more glory as the new season gets underway.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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In addition to finishing a solid eighth in the Eredivisie last season, Groningen secured direct entry into the finals tournament of this season’s edition of the UEFA Europe League, courtesy of their historic victory in the KNVB Cup, ending an eight year absence from Europe’s second-tier competition. Such a result highlights the progress that Erwin van de Looi’s men has achieved in recent seasons, and will undoubtedly consider themselves as one of the dark horses threatening the established order of the Eredivisie as the new season gets underway next week.

Summer Transfers

In – Abel Tamata (Free), Bryan Linssen (Heracles Almelo), Jesper Drost (PEC Zwolle)

Out – Tjarron Chery (Queens Park Rangers, United Kingdom), Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City, United Kingdom), Paco van Moorsel (released), Género Zeefuik (released), William Troost-Ekong (released), Nick van der Velden (released), Hilal Ben Moussa (released)

The departures of captain Maikel Kieftenbeld and influential attacking midfielder, Tjarron Chery, to the English Premier League mark the most notable transactions conducted by the club this summer, and has left behind large boots that need to be filled in the Groningen midfield. Reinforcements have arrived in the form of left-back Abel Tamata, who did not see much action last season at PSV due to injury, winger Bryan Linssen, who enjoyed a rich vein of form for Heracles during the tail-end of the 2014/2015 Eredivisie season (bagging five goals and three assists in the final five games) and the versatile attacking-midfielder Jesper Drost from PEC Zwolle.


Groningen’s pre-season got off to an explosive start with an 18-1 victory against amateur side RWE Eemsmond, with Danny Hoesen netting five goals. Similar results followed against other smaller clubs, including a 9-0 drubbing of SC Stadspark and a 5-1 win against Eerste Division side FC Emmen. The Trots van het Noorden began facing higher caliber opposition as of the middle of July, when they hosted English Premier League side, Southampton FC, losing 3-0, and later Roda JC, winning 2-1. Groningen completed their preparations for the new season following their participation in the Johan Cruijff Shield, going down 3-0 to last season’s champions PSV.

Key Players

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Michael de Leeuw

After finishing the 2014/2015 Eredivisie season as the joint-third highest goalscorer, Groningen will be hoping that Micheal de Leeuw will maintain his lethal touch in front of goal. His 24 goals in all competitions last season, including a hat-trick against NAC Breda on the final day of the Eredivisie, have more than compensated for the loss of Richairo Zivkovic to Ajax last summer, and will be seen as the man to spearhead the attack as Groningen battle on three fronts in the coming season.

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Eric Botteghin

Posting strong figures for interceptions per game, clearances per game and blocks per game (according to, Eric Botteghin has proven time and again to be one of the Eredivisie’s most technically-gifted and consistent centre-backs and will once again be leading from the back as the new season gets underway. If Groningen are able to stave off interest from Feyenoord, fans can expect another top-drawer season from the Brazilian who only gets better with each passing season.

Youngsters to Watch

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Albert Rusnák

The two-goal hero of last season’s cup final, Albert Rusnák spent the first half of last season on loan at SC Cambuur from Manchester City, before being bought outright by Groningen in January. The cup victory will have undoubtedly proven to be an invaluable learning experience for the young Slovak, who will only grow in confidence as the season progresses.


Simon Tibbling

At just 20-years old, Swedish central-midfielder Simon Tibbling has firmly established himself as part of Groningen’s starting XI, despite only joining the Green-White Army in Januray 2015 from Swedish side Djurgårdens IF. After factoring in the departure of captain Maikel Kieftenbeld, as well as his excellent pass-completion rate, higher than any of his teammates, Tibbling will surely play a primary role in van de Looi’s team.

Predicted Lineup

(FORMATION, 4-3-3): Padt; Tamata, Lindgren, Botteghin, Hateboer; Rusnák, Tibbling, Hiariej; Linssen, de Leeuw, Antonia.


Though Groningen have not used the summer transfer window to increase the depth of their squad to accommodate for a busier schedule ahead of their participation in the finals tournament of the Europa League, the Green-White Army have done well to hold on to the vast majority of last season’s star performers and have found suitable replacements for those that have departed. In recent years, Groningen have traditionally had strong starts and finishes to the Eredivisie season, and have usually been placed in Europa League playoff grouping. With a squad that looks stronger on paper than it has been in recent years, particularly in the attack, this team looks set to improve on last season’s performances and find the consistency that they have lacked during the middle stages of the season.

Predicted Position: 6th

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)