The KNVB Cup final takes place on Sunday with holders PEC Zwolle looking to defend their trophy against Groningen at De Kuip. Kick off 5pm.

Finale KNVB-bekerThe 20th of April last year will go down as the greatest day in PEC Zwolle’s 104 year history as Ron Jans side dismantled Ajax 5-1 to lift their first piece of major silverware and qualify for the Europa League. Any chance that last year was a fluke result for the Bluefingers has been dismissed as Jan’s side once again breezed through the competition, and they will look to get their hands on the KNVB Beker once again on Sunday.

Standing in their way is the pride of the north Groningen, who have never lifted the KNVB Cup, losing their only final appearance to date in 1989 as PSV proved far too strong in a 4-1 victory. However Edwin van de Looi’s side have been excellent in the tournament this year, and they will go into the final confident of lifting their first trophy.

The two sides have only met once so far this season with PEC Zwolle coming out on top 2-0, but it will be Groningen who go into the final in better form as they have remained unbeaten in the last six matches, while Jans side haven’t won in 90 minutes since the 4th of April, five games ago. In the league table PEC Zwolle sit 7th, while Groningen are a place and four points behind them. PEC Zwolle currently sit in the European play-off spots, but should they lift the trophy on Sunday, Groningen will climb into the final place for the four team knockout phase at the end of the season.

Team News

PEC Zwolle: Jans will be without key centre back Maikel van der Werf, who is suspended, with Thomas Lam set to come into the defence, while Ryan Thomas is set to start ahead of Sheraldo Becker.

Possible Starting XI: Hahn, Van Polen, Van Hintum, Lam, Broerse, Saymak, Rienstra, Lukoki, Thomas, Necid

Groningen: Edwin van de Looi is set to name an unchanged line-up from the 1-1 draw with Feyenoord last week. The only selection headache for the coach will be whether to start Lorenzo Burnet or Hans Hateboer at left back.

Possible Starting XI: Padt, Kappelhof, Burnet, Botteghin, Lindgren, Kieftenbeld. Chery, Tibbling, Rusnak, Mahi, De Leeuw

Route to the final

Groningen: The tournament started with a 4-1 win over Barendrecht, before an emphatic 8-1 victory over another amateur side Flevo Boys. A 3-0 win over Volendam set up a quarter final with Vitesse, which Groningen won easily 4-0, and the Pride of the North booked their final place by beating Excelsior 3-0.

PEC Zwolle: The defence of the trophy started with a 3-2 win over Eerste Divisie side Oss, before a Lam hat-trick helped PEC hammer amateur side HHC 6-1. A nervy 1-0 win over VVV set up a quarter final with Cambuur, which was settled in extra time, with Jody Lukoki giving Jans side a 3-2 win. The semi-final with FC Twente ended 1-1, but PEC Zwolle held their nerve when the tie went to spot kicks.

Key Players

chery sjbTjaronn Chery

Chery goes into the final in top form for Groningen, having scored five times in the last four matches, and in what is probably his final season with the club, the midfielder will be determined to lift the trophy. The 26-year-old has scored twice in the competition this season, but has also added six assists. Chery is Groningen’s game changer and if he is on form it will be difficult for the PEC Zwolle midfield to stop him.

hahn pecWarner Hahn

PEC Zwolle have plenty of dangerous players going forward, but arguably goalkeeper Warner Hahn has been their outstanding player this season. The on loan Feyenoord stopper has made several key stops for the club this season, and was in excellent form in the semi-final win over Twente.

rusnak gronAlbert Rusnak

Rusnak has been an excellent signing for Groningen since joining in January from Manchester City. The wingers skill on the ball and pace will make him a constant threat to the PEC Zwolle defence. Rusnak has scored three goals and added four assists since swapping Cambuur for Groningen. Rusnak has been so impressive for Groningen that Manchester City are believed to be keen on re-signing the 20-year-old.

Key facts

  • Michael de Leeuw is Groningen’s top scorer in the competition this season with seven goals, one behind tournament leader Arkaduisz Milik. PEC Zwolle’s top scorer is centre back Thomas Lam who has four.
  • Since PEC Zwolle were promoted to the Eredivisie in 2012, the two clubs have met five times. Groningen have the edge with three wins, PEC Zwolle have one victory, and there has been one draw.
  • If Groningen win the competition it will be the eighth season in a row that there will be a new name on the KNVB Cup. The last seven years has seen Feyenoord, Heerenveen, Ajax, Twente, PSV, AZ and PEC Zwolle all lift the trophy.

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