THURSDAY 17TH JULY
EUROPA LEAGUE – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG
ABERDEEN vs. FC GRONINGEN
The first Dutch football calendar gets underway this Thursday night in Scotland as FC Groningen travel across the water to play Aberdeen.
Last season Aberdeen qualified for Europe for the first time since 2009, finishing in third in the Scottish Premiership, which capped off a great 2013/14, their 100th year in Scottish top flight football. To add to the great finish in the league campaign The Dons added their sixth League Cup trophy to their cabinet with a penalty shootout victory against Inverness.
The Reds are likely to line up in fluid 4-2-3-1 formation that will see Adam Rooney (five goals in the first two qualifying ties) on his own up front with Jonny Hayes, Niall McGinn and veteran Barry Robson sitting behind him. Waiting in the wings will be new signing David Goodwillie on the bench. Goodwillie, formerly of Blackburn Rovers, signed on a free transfer after been released by Rovers at the end of last season.
Manager Derek McInnes knows that the Eredivisie side will be a tough game for his side: “Groningen have a bit of pace and presence, playing a similar system to ourselves. It will be a good test for us, but it will be a good test for them as well because we’ve got better as we’ve gone along. Groningen are a bit behind us in terms of competitive matches, but we are up and running. It is good to get competitve football now and we will certainly need to be competitive in the games against Groningen.”
FC Groningen head to Pittodrie with four new signings in tow. New first team goalkeeper Sergio Padt, tricky playmaker Jarchinio Antonio and striker Danny Hoesen will all get a start in Scotland with veteran substitute goalkeeper Peter van der Vlag in reserve. Losing young prodigy Richiaro Zivkovic to Ajax would have been a blow but Hoesen and Tjaronn Chery will be ready to step up to supply the goals.
Lining up in an attacking 4-3-3, one player looking to shine will be Filip Kostic. The Serbian left winger has been rumoured to be heading out of the Euroborg all summer, ready to move onto bigger and better things, however, Kostic is still present and look to him to give English right-back Shaleum Logan a torrid time on Thursday night.
I can see the Eredivisie side being too strong for Aberdeen and goals will be scored but it will be a tight one. With Hayes and Rooney in great form, life for the Groningen back four may be difficult and central defender partnership Johan Kappelhof and Eric Botteghin will have to be a the top of their game to keep a clean sheet.
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