THURSDAY 31ST JULY
EUROPA LEAGUE – THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING – FIRST LEG
PSV vs. SKN ST. PÖLTEN (18:00 BST)
Philip Cocu’s PSV should have no trouble disposing Austrian side St. Pölten, a team the Eindhoven side ironically defeated 1-0 away in a friendly with a very under strengthen squad earlier this month.
The Austrians do not play in the top flight and last season qualified for Europe for the first time. Qualification was gained by reaching the Austrian Cup final and although they were defeated 4-2 by Red Bull Salzburg, due to Salzburg winning the Austrian Bundesliga and competing in the Champions League this season, they find themselves in the Europa League qualifying stages. In the last round, they defeated Botev Plovdiv of Bulgaria over the two legs. Losing the first leg 2–1 but overcoming the Bulgarians 2-0 in the second leg to win 3-2 on aggregate.
To give them their full name, Sportklub Niederösterreich St. Pölten play in the Erste Liga and should prove no threat to PSV over the two legs. In fact for this first leg game, Bet Victor has them as major underdogs to win the match at 12/1.
I recommend placing a small stake on PSV to win 4-0 at 11/1 with Bet Victor. Cocu’s men will explode out of the blocks and as always, play the attacking style they are accustom to. Although, Cocu will be without World Cup stars, Santiago Arias, Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay, they have enough firepower to blow the Austrians away.
New signing from Mönchengladbach, Luuk de Jong, will be look to notch on his full debut at the Philips Stadion if he selected ahead of Jürgen Locadia. Sitting behind the striker will be Adam Maher, Oskar Hijlemark and Stijn Schaars who are all capable of scoring goals. Marcel Ritzmaier, himself an Austrian, may push for a start ahead of one of those three, after returning from a successful period on loan at SC Cambuur last year.
Another competent goal getter, Florian Jozefzoon should start on the right-wing with 20-year-old Mohamed Rayhi and 18-year-old Montenegrin Aleksandar Boljević vying for the right-wing slot after impressing in friendlies.
With a back four boasting Dutch internationals Jeffrey Bruma and Jetro Willems, in the midst of Jeroen Zoet in goal, St. Pölten will find it hard unearthing the PSV net.
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