Southampton made big surprise last season in Premier League, but ultimately had to be satisfied with a Europa League qualifying ticket. English side is welcoming Vitesse in the third round, as they actually start the season with this game being their first official. The team started preparations earlier then ever, as the already played six friendly matches
As said already, their season was terrific, but especially great were their performances in the first part of the season, while they lost the form towards the end finishing only at seventh position. Even so, this was the most successful season in the club’s history. They are now returning to European Cups after twelve years, with the main goal of entering the group stage of Europa League. During the transfer window they were active mostly in Eredivisie market, bringing defensive midfielder Jordy Clasie from Feyenoord, right back Cuco Martina from Twente, striker Juanmi from Malaga, plus few others. Midfielders Ramirez, Tadic, defensive midfielder Gardos and goalkeeper Forster are all injured. Hosts will be lined up in a 4-4-3 formation: Stekelenburg; Soares, Yoshida, Fonte, Targett; Wanyama, Clasie; Mane, Davis, Juanmi; Pelle.
Vitesse is doing better and better every season, with the team having great previous one, finishing fifth in domestic league and ensuring the exit to Europa League for the next one. This will be their third participation in Europa League in last four season, while the ambitions are now set to even higher places in Eredivisie this season.
Positive for them is that their coach Peter Bosz remained on the bench, even though he is having consecutive successful season with them. The team changed quite a lot during Summer, as seven players left the club, however the team continued their cooperation with Chelsea and brought four talented players to reinforce the team. Moreover, they have signed central defender Maikel van der Werff from Zwolle and right back Sheran Yeini from Maccabi Tel Aviv. Visitors are also playing mostly in 4-3-3 formation: Room; Diks, Kashia, Leerdam, Achenteh; Baker, Vako, Nakamba; Brown, Durjdjevic, Oliinyk.
Southampton has lost some key players in the midfield during the Summer transfer season, while couple of important ones are injured. Hosts are favorites, but nowhere close to the odds suggest. I have no doubts that Vitesse will find a way to be very competitive here.
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