Groningen’s first ever appearance in the Europa League group stages begins on Thursday as the Euroborg plays host to French giants Marseille.

mahi groGroningen earned their place in the group stages of the Europa League after lifting the KNVB Cup for the first time last season, and they have been rewarded with a group that features Marseille, Portuguese side Braga and Slovan Liberec of the Czech Republic.

Marseille are undoubtedly the favourites for the group and they are the first visitors to the Euroborg on Thursday, bringing with them well known players such as former Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra, ex-Newcastle winger Remy Cabella and Dutch centre back Karim Rekik, along with young talents Mats Batshuayi and Lucas Ocampos. However coach Edwin van de Looi has called on his players not to fear the French side.

He told a press conference, “One of the most important things for tomorrow is that we should have no fear of Marseille, which is unnecessary,”

“It is clear that they are a very good team, but so are we,”

Form

Groningen have made a decent start to their Eredivisie campaign with two wins out of five which puts them in 9th place. They head into the game against Marseille on the back of their best performance as they saw off local rivals Heerenveen 3-1 at the Euroborg playing some excellent football.

Marseille have stuttered so far in the French Ligue 1, but also warmed up for the game with a good win as they beat Bastia 4-1. They currently sit 11th in the table.

Team News

Groningen go into the game with no fresh injuries and coach Edwin van de Looi may decide to keep to the side that played so well against Heerenveen at the weekend.

Possible Groningen line-up: Padt, Hateboer, Tamata, Kappelhof, Lindgren, Maduro, Tibbling, Rusnak, Linssen, De Leeuw, Hoesen

Brice Dja Djedje is the only injury concern for Marseille boss Michel and he could line up the same side that saw off Bastia at the weekend. Karim Rekik should start in the centre of defence on his return to the Netherlands

Possible Marseille line-up: Mandanda, Javi Manquillo, Mendy, Rekik, N’Koulou, Diarra, Barrada, Lucas Silva, Alessandrini, Cabella, Batshuayi

Key Players

tibbling-groSimon Tibbling

The 22-year-old’s excellent passing ability and awareness has made him a revelation since joining Groningen last season and the Swedish midfielder will be key if his side are to get anything against Marseille. Tibbling orchestrated the 3-1 win over Heerenveen, setting up the second goal with an excellent ball over the top for Bryan Linssen and if he can pull the strings against Marseille, Groningen may just cause an upset.

batsMats Batshuayi

The 21-year-old is considered one of the finest young strikers in Europe and he has started the season in decent form with three goals in five matches. Quick, a good dribbler, and a threat in the air, Batshuayi is full of quality and will cause a lot of problems for Groningen centre back duo Kappelhof and Lindgren, who won’t be able to give the Belgian any time on the ball.




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