Regarded as the in-form team towards the tail-end of last season, Erwin van de Looi’s men will be hoping to pick up where they left off in the upcoming Eredivisie season.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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Goals from Tjaronn Chery and Hans Hateboer ensured that Groningen ended last season on a high as they claimed victory in the Eredivise Europa League play-off round against AZ Alkmaar. Though the Green-White Army have sadly been prematurely eliminated from European competition this season, courtesy of a second round qualification loss to Scottish side Aberdeen, Groningen will undoubtedly do their best to once more lay siege to a European spot in the Eredivisie.

Transfer Activity:

Richairo Zivkovic, last season’s top scorer for Groningen, has been one of two notable departures from the side that finished seventh in the Eredivisie. The 17 year-old, who scored a total of 11 goals in 37 appearances for the Green-White Army, was picked up by Ajax for a fee of €1.9 million.

Groningen’s other major departure was in the form of goalkeeper Marco Bizot, now plying his trade in Belgium with KRC Genk, who paid €1.5 million for his services.

In terms of arrivals, head coach Erwin van de Looi has replaced the above departures with Danny Hoesen (brought in from Ajax for €800,000), Peter van der Vlag (from FC Emmen) and Sergio Padt (from KAA Gent), both for undisclosed fees. Groniongen have additionally bought play-off hero Tjaronn Chery outright for after his loan spell from ADO Den Haag ended.  Martijn van der Laan (SC Cambuur) and Jarchinio Antonia (Go Ahead Eagles) have also been brought in as reinforcements for the Trots van het Noorden.


Groningen’s pre-season was cut short due to their European obligations. Drawn against Scottish side, Aberdeen, the play-off winners eventually succumbed to a 2-1 aggregate defeat following a 0-0 draw in Scotland, and a 2-1 defeat at the Euroborg, with captain Maikel Kieftenbeld netting Groningen’s only goal over the course of the two matches.

Despite losing the tie, Groningen looked good in the away leg, creating several goal-scoring opportunities that would have changed the balance of the match heading into the second leg. With Zivkovic now gone, there will now have to be a new focus on the offensive direction that this team will take.

After the European exit, Groningen did face Premier League side Aston Villa, and looked at their best in a comfortable 4-1 win.

Key Players:

Eric Botteghin: The Brazilian was only brought into the squad from NAC Breda the previous season, but has quickly established himself as a fan favourite, following some highly impressive defensive displays for Groningen as they saw out a strong end to the season and break their record for most consecutive league wins. Botteghin led the way in the Eredivisie for most interceptions per game, managing a total of 128 in his 34 games. Groningen’s push for European football will once again be, in part, determined by the Brazilian’s performances.

Danny Hoesen: The 23 year-old comes in as a high-profile signing for the Green-White Army, having gained fame for scoring against Barcelona in the group stages of last season’s UEFA Champions League, as Ajax ran out eventual 2-1 winners against the Catalans. Much pressure will be placed on the shoulders of Hoesen to lead the Groningen attack in the absence of Zivkovic. With playing time limited in Amsterdam, Hoesen will be hoping to see more time on the field and show his attacking prowess.

Filip Kostic: Kostic is once again the main man at the Euroborg as fans will be hoping that the wide man will be able to deliver more crosses into the penalty box. The Serbian has firmly established himself as key to van de Looi’s plans since his arrival in 2012. An up-and-coming midfielder, Groningen fans will be hopeful that the development of his passing skills and runs continue into the new season.

Prediction: Having been consistently placed in the UEFA Europa League play-off grouping over the years, a realistic expectation would be one that sees Groningen finish between 5th and 8th place.  However, depending on the performances of the new arrivals, van de Looi’s men could push for a a spot that sees them qualify for more advanced stages of the Europa League. If the Pride of the North can indeed carry on the form at the tail-end of last season, they can indeed give the European veterans of the Eredivisie a run for their money, and cause an upset, or two, along the way.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)