Utrecht begin their European campaign on Thursday with the first leg of their Europa League second qualifying round tie against Zrinjski Mostar. Kick off at De Galgenwaard is 5.30pm BST.

Utrecht booked their place in Europe by winning the Eredivisie playoffs last season and have undergone several changes over the summer.

John van den Brom is now in charge while several new faces have been added to the squad including Adam Maher, Vaclav Cerny and Adrian Dalmau. Pre-season has been very encouraging and Utrecht head into Thursday’s tie full of confidence.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, van den Brom stated he is hoping to keep the good feeling going, “It is important to maintain the positive flow. I am happy that we first play at home. You can then immediately set the tone. But I am not saying that we are only going to attack. Collecting no goals against is also important. We have to watch out for the counter. They are extremely dangerous in that. You must not let yourself be lured from the tent. ”

Opponents Zrinjski Mostar finished second in the Bosnian national league last season and came through a qualifier against Akademija Pandev 6-0 on aggregate to book their place against Utrecht.

Last season, the Bosnian side reached the third qualifying round of this competition before being narrowly defeated by Ludogorets Razgad.

Zrinjski Mostar have already begun their league campaign but lost their opening game against Sarajevo 1-0.

Utrecht captain Willem Janssen told the press he is expecting a tough game, “You are in the Europa League, so you know in advance that there are no breeze. They already have some hardness in their legs, have already started the competition and the Europa League. We know the power of the opponent. They will probably dig themselves in. We will have to keep up the pace and work very hard to break them. We have to put a lot of energy into it. “

Team News

Van den Brom has a selection headache ahead of the first-leg with Adrián Dalmau, Joris van Overeem, Issah Abass, Othmane Boussaïd and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck all out.

Possible Utrecht line-up: Jensen, Guwara, Klaiber, Janssen, Bergstrom, Strieder, Gustafson, Maher, Kerk, Cerny, Lonwijk

Possible Zrinjski line-up: Brkic, Rugasevic, Jakovljevic, Barisic, Gojkovic, Curjuric, Cirjak, Rustemovic, Mandic, Stanic, Lendric

Odds

Utrecht 2/9, Draw 19/4 Zrinjski Mostar 11/1

The bookies make Utrecht strong favourites for the first-leg

Prediction

Utrecht are the favourites on paper but go into the tie without a few key players and without their first choice strikers. Van den Brom will need to decide whether to start Lonwijk or Nick Venema up front in a crucial tie.

Zrinjski Mostar are no pushovers though and have given good sides a tough time in Europe over the past few years. They will sit deep in Utrecht and look to hit the hosts on the counter attack.

In what could be brutal temperatures, Utrecht will need to find a way to break through a tight defence. However, with the likes of Maher and Gustafson they have the players to unlock a defence.

Utrecht should win this one and will hope to take a good lead to Bosnia next week. Utrecht 2-0 Zrinjski Mostar

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