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Europa League play-offs: FC Groningen – FC Twente

FC Groningen – FC Twente

16th of May, 1845 CET – Venue: Euroborg Groningen – referee: Pieter Vink

The previous two fixtures between the two: 4-1 in the Grolsch Veste, 0-3 in the Euroborg. FC Twente’s form: Unbeaten in eight. FC Groningen’s form: one point from the last three games. Difference between the two in the competition? Nineteen points in favour of FC Twente.

Not really a fixture to look forward to for the home supporters. Especially considering one of FC Groningen’s most talented players of the last decade is now one of the stars of the FC Twente team. Dusan Tadic will make his second return to the Euroborg this season and in the previous game the Serbian ran the show, scoring one and assisting two. He had been devastating in his debut for FC Twente too, ironically against his former club, when he scored two goals and set up a further two.

Fer scores the 0-1 earlier in the season.

Fer scores the 0-1 earlier in the season.

FC Twente will be confident and, with a sparkling attack consisting of the aforementioned Tadic, who has scored 12 and assisted 14 goals in the league this season, Belgian wing-wizard Nacer Chadli in whom Juventus have serious interest and finally-hitting-form striker Luc Castaignos, they have every reason to be. After a tough period under Steve McClaren with only 5 wins in 21 games and a slow start under interim-manager Alfred Schreuder, the game against FC Groningen earlier in the season proved essential in gaining newfound confidence. That game, the 0-3 in March, was the first victory of 2013 for the Twentenaren and they have been marching on ever since, notching up five victories and picking up three draws in the process. To make things look even better for the club, goalkeeper Mikhaylov is fit to play and so is left-back Robbert Schilder, who returns after a month of absence. Captain Wout Brama is still out and the season of Russian pinch hitter Dmitry Bulykin seems over, but the rest of the squad is fit and raring to go. The return of Andreas Bjelland in the last few games has steadied the backline a bit and the midfield with Leroy Fer, Felipe Gutierrez and Willem Janssen have been dominating their opponent numbers lately.

FC Groningen though will take heart from the fact that their field play has improved dramatically since the beginning of the season and especially four youngsters have been playing well for them recently. Influential central midfielder Leandro Bacuna (21) has been rather inspirational the last couple of months. He has been turning games in FC Groningens favour singlehandedly in April and even against Ajax last Sunday when they lost 0-2, he was one of the better players on the field. In Marco Bizot (22), FC Groningen have a young and talented goalkeeper who is rarely prone to mistakes and made the spot between the posts quite comfortably his own. Another who has come into the team quite recently is Stefano Magnasco (19) and the attack-minded Chilean has filled in the right back spot with verve. The  central defender Virgil van Dijk (21) is one of the hottest properties in the Eredivisie lately, with a whole swarm of clubs looking to lure the majestic, towering defender. FC Groningen will play with the same team as they did against Ajax, a rather enthralling clash can be expected.

 




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