Monday 22 January 2018

Ronald Koeman: We'll be taking return leg against Vitesse Arnhem seriously

Ronald Koeman admits he would struggle to manage former club Vitesse now
Ronald Koeman admits he would struggle to manage former club Vitesse now

Southampton may boast a convincing advantage against Vitesse Arnhem, but fiercely-competitive manager Ronald Koeman says it would be "crazy" to jeopardise their Europa League dream by fielding a weakened side.

The first leg of this third qualifying round tie could not have gone much better for Saints last week, ending a topsy-turvy 12-year absence from continental competition in style.

A potentially tricky encounter with Vitesse was dealt with impressively as goals from Graziano Pelle, Dusan Tadic and Shane Long secured a comprehensive 3-0 win at sold-out St Mary's.

Such dominance means one bookmaker has priced Saints at 1/250 to progress past Vitesse tonight, not that manager Koeman will be letting his foot off the pedal.

"I hope for a good game and, for sure, it is a game that we will start with the same intensity that we did last week," he said.

"Football is sometimes strange and if you don't start with enough concentration, if you don't play with the same intensity in pressing the opponent, then it is possible that you get a difficult evening. But if we play with the same concentration and the same intensity, the qualities make the difference."

It seems unusual for a manager to use a strong side given the circumstances, but - as he showed during his first season at St Mary's - the Dutchman considers cup competitions as important as the league.

"I try, I try always," Koeman said, ahead of facing the club with whom he began his managerial career.

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