Vitesse Arnhem begin their Europa league campaign with a difficult trip to Southampton in the third qualifying round first leg.

vit ddVitesse were the top unseeded side in the draw for the third qualifying round, but luck was not on their side when they picked out Southampton, who qualified for the tournament after finishing 7th in the Premier League.

The club managed by former Vitesse, Feyenoord and Ajax boss Ronald Koeman has been rounding off their pre-season in the Netherlands over the past week and looked in formidable form after easily dispatching both Groningen and Feyenoord 3-0. Vitesse themselves are unbeaten during their pre-season friendlies, but none of the teams come close to the stature of Southampton.

Vitesse’s chances of progressing have been hit by their transfer activity this summer with key men Marco Vejinovic and Davy Propper leaving for Feyenoord and PSV respectively, while most of their recruits have once again been youth talent loaned from Chelsea.

However boss Peter Bosz is still hopeful of a good result in England, telling the club’s website, “We have seen Southampton this week in Holland. It’s a good team. They play football; a possession game and they have individual quality,”

“I think we know everything from them and we made a plan. We hope it works. We do everything for a good result. We are coming here to win and if it’s possible with our style and way of playing it will be wonderful.”

New signing from Chelsea, Nathan is unavailable for the first leg, along with Renato Ibarra, Sheran Yeini, and Arnold Kruiswijk, but Isaiah Brown, Maikel van der Werff, Lewis Baker, Danilo Pantelic, and Milot Rashica could all make their competitive debuts.

Possible Vitesse line-up: Room, Diks, Kashia, Van der Werff, Achenteh, Baker, Qazaishvili, Nakamba, Oliinyk, Rashica, Djurdjevic

Koeman started his managerial career at Vitesse and said on his old club, “I think it will be a good game because they like to play football – that’s what we saw from Groningen and that’s what we saw from Feyenoord.

“They give to space to play, and we have to show we have the ability. That’s maybe a little bit easier than an opponent that is defending and defending, and playing long balls.

“We have to be sharp because if you let them play football then they can show their qualities.”

Southampton will line up with a number of familiar faces as Jordy Clasie, Cuco Martina and Maarten Stekelenburg look set to make their debuts, while former Twente midfielder Dusan Tadic and ex-Feyenoord forward Graziano Pelle should start.

Possible Southampton line-up: Stekelenburg, Martina, Yoshida, Fonte, Targett; Wanyama, Clasie; Mane, Davis, Tadic; Pelle

Vitesse earned their place in the Europa League by winning the end of season play-offs, but their run in the competition is likely to be a short one. Southampton have looked excellent in pre-season, and against an inexperienced Vitesse side the likes of Dusan Tadic and Graziano Pelle could run riot. Vitesse need to aim to keep the score down for the second leg next week, but that could be easier said than done.

Prediction: Southampton 3-0 Vitesse




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