IN PROFILE: FC Groningen

By SFC Media time Sun 26 Jun Club

Southampton’s final game on their pre-season trip to Holland will see them face FC Groningen for the second time in as many seasons.

Saints visited the Euroborg last summer, sealing a 3-0 win thanks to goals from José Fonte, Graziano Pellè and Sadio Mané as they ramped up preparations for the 2015/16 season.

They will do so again this summer as part of their nine-day stay in the Netherlands in late July, with friendlies also arranged against PEC Zwolle and FC Twente.

FC Groningen finished seventh in the Eredivisie last season, missing out on qualification for the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League after losing out to eventual winners Heracles Almelo in the semi-finals.

Here, we provide an in-depth profile of the Pride of the North ahead of the friendly, which takes place on Saturday 30th July, with a kick-off time of 3.30pm local time (2.30pm BST).

Stadium

FC Groningen play their home games at the Euroborg, a stadium which has a capacity of 22,329. They moved to their new home in December 2005, having spent 72 years at the Oosterpark Stadion.

History

The club was founded in 1971 when predecessor GVAV changed its name to FC Groningen. Their best results in the Eredivisie have come in 1991 and 2006, when they finished third.

Twice in their history they have suffered relegation from the top flight of Dutch football, being demoted to the Eerste Divisie in 1974 and 1998. 

After winning the KNVB Cup in 2015, beating PEC Zwolle (another side Saints will face on their tour of Holland) they competed in the group stages of the UEFA Europa League last season for the first time in their history.

Saints links

Dušan Tadić will come up against the second of his two former Dutch clubs when Saints take on FC Groningen at the Euroborg. The Serbia international spent two seasons at the Euroborg between 2010 and 2012, before moving to FC Twente.

Saints defender Virgil van Dijk also spent time with FC Groningen. He made his professional debut with the club in 2011, going on to make 66 appearances in all competitions before moving to Celtic in 2013.

Former Saints boss Ronald Koeman and brother Erwin both played for FC Groningen during their careers, while Saints Academy graduate Tim Sparv enjoyed three seasons at the Euroborg between 2010 and 2013.

Manager

There will also be a new manager in the Groningen dugout when the two sides meet again this season. Ernest Faber was announced as their new manager in March, taking charge ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.

The former FC Eindhoven boss spent last season as manager of NEC, who finished tenth in the Eredivisie, after a spell as assistant manager at PSV. During his playing career, the defender featured for PSV, NEC, Sparta and Groningen.

Last season

Under manager Erwin van de Looi, FC Groningen achieved a respectable seventh-placed finish in the Eredivisie, but missed out on a third consecutive season in the UEFA Europa League after losing to Heracles in the play-offs.

In Europe, the Pride of the North endured a difficult time in the group stages, failing to win any of their six games. Draws with Braga and Slovan Liberec saw them pick up two points, in a group that also contained Marseille.


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