MX23RW : Friday, August 19 14:11:06| >> :120:21321:21321:
[monks data]
Feb 24, 2022 at 8pm UK at GelreDome, Arnhem
2 - 0
Rapid Vienna
Grbic (3'), Bero (19')
Oroz (79'), Dasa (80'), Letsch (90+4')
FT(HT: 2-0)

Druijf (74'), Wimmer (76'), Grull (80')

Preview: Vitesse vs. Rapid Vienna - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa Conference League clash between Vitesse and Rapid Vienna, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Vitesse will welcome Rapid Vienna to the Netherlands for the second leg of their Europa Conference League playoff tie on Thursday.

The visitors arrive with a slender 2-1 lead after a hard-fought win on home turf last Thursday, although everything is certainly still to play for.

Match preview

Vitesse coach Thomas Letsch during the match on November 25, 2021© Reuters

After scraping into second place in their Conference League group in fairly contentious fashion, with third-placed Tottenham Hotspur forced to forfeit their final game and finishing three points short as a result, Vitesse must rely on a playoff game if they are to book a place in the final 16.

They were drawn against Austrian outfit Rapid Vienna in a two-legged affair and headed into the first game last week in a concerning run of form, having lost five consecutive games in all competitions, culminating in back-to-back 5-0 thrashings at the hands of Ajax and PSV Eindhoven.

That losing run was then stretched to six matches in Austria on Thursday, as Thomas Letsch's side quickly fell 2-0 down due to goals from Ferdy Druijf and Marco Grull, before Lois Openda salvaged an important goal in the final 15 minutes heading into their home leg.

The Arnhem outfit were able to stop the rot at the weekend, though, as Danilho Doekhi netted a 92nd-minute equaliser to see them earn a point away at Utrecht, maintaining their position in sixth spot in the Eredivisie.

Letsch's men will now look for a first victory in over a month in their bid to overturn the one-goal deficit and progress into the round of 16 of the inaugural Conference League campaign.

Rapid Vienna's Ferdy Druijf celebrates scoring their first goal  on February 17, 2022© Reuters

Rapid Vienna, on the other hand, arrive with the sole intention of defending a slender lead after escaping from the first leg with a win, despite playing with 10 men for the final 30 minutes after defender Filip Stojkovic was sent off.

Before that, the 32-time Austrian champions had dropped out of their Europa League group, earning just six points from their six games, although a 1-0 win over Genk in the final round of fixtures did ensure they pipped Bernd Storck's side to third spot, earning the lifeline of a Europa Conference League playoff place.

Having followed up back-to-back losses with that first-leg win, Ferdinand Feldhofer's side returned to domestic action on Sunday, and an 83rd-minute Kevin Wimmer equaliser saw them earn a 2-2 draw away at Sturm Graz, leaving them in an underwhelming position in seventh spot in the Austrian top flight.

With any hopes of a top-three league finish all but gone, Die Grun-Weissen will look to add a positive to their season by advancing to the knockout rounds of Europe's third continental competition.

Vitesse Europa Conference League form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Vitesse form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D

Rapid Vienna Europa Conference League form:
  • W

Rapid Vienna form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D

Team News

Vitesse Arnhem's Lois Openda celebrates scoring their first goal on February 17, 2022© Reuters

Vitesse should come in with a relatively clean bill of health after young defender Enzo Cornelisse was fit to make the bench in their recent league game.

Forward Lois Openda netted his 16th goal of the season in Austria last week, but the Club Brugge loanee is suspended for the second leg due to an accumulation of bookings, so Nikolai Baden Frederiksen should be drafted into the side.

While striker Adrian Grbic was sent off against Utrecht at the weekend, his suspension will instead carry over to their next Eredivisie game, leaving him free to support Frederiksen on Thursday.

Rapid Vienna will be without key full-back Filip Stojkovic after his sending off last week, with Dejan Petrovic or former Tottenham Hotspur defender Kevin Wimmer expected to come into the back line in his absence.

Ferdy Druijf will again lead the line after his first-leg goal, while fellow scorer Marco Grull offers threat from the left wing.

Young prospect Yusuf Demir is another danger for Vitesse to deal with, with the 18-year-old having returned from a spell at Barcelona.

Vitesse possible starting lineup:
Houwen; Doekhi, Oroz, Rasmussen; Dasa, Wittek, Tronstad, Domgjoni; Buitink; Openda, Grbic

Rapid Vienna possible starting lineup:
Gartler; Moormann, Aiwu, Wimmer, Auer; Grahovac, Ljubicic; Kitagawa, Demir, Grull; Druijf

SM words green background

We say: Vitesse 1-1 Rapid Vienna (Vitesse win 3-2 on aggregate)

With two relatively evenly-matched teams squaring off, Thursday's second leg promises to be an intriguing encounter, and, while Vitesse boast the ability to overturn a deficit, we instead see the visitors scraping over the line given their advantage.

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