Groningen from the second division hosts Eredivisie team Fortuna Sittard at Euroborg for a KNVB Beker quarter-final clash on Thursday.
With last year’s finalists, Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, knocked out, and Feyenoord battling AZ Alkmaar, the tournament is anyone’s to win in the quarter-finals.
Groningen, now in the Eerste Divisie, is one of the hottest teams in Holland, despite a recent loss to Dordrecht, their first in 14 matches.
Under Dick Lukkien, they are poised for a playoff spot, aiming for a quick return to the premier division, having earned more points than any team in their league in the last 10 games.
Their strong performance in the league has helped them in the Beker, winning all their matches away, including victories over Eerste Divisie leaders Willem II and Excelsior from the top tier.
Groningen eyes a rare semi-final spot, hoping to mimic their 2015 triumph in this competition.
Sittard, without significant success since 1964 and minimal quarter-final appearances in four decades, had the advantage in recent encounters, beating Groningen twice last season before their relegation.
Entering this game, Sittard has won three of their last four away games, two in the cup, with Kaj Sierhuis key, scoring three goals in the last two Beker matches.
They’re also performing well in the league, pushing for a Europa Conference League playoff spot, with relegation concerns long forgotten.
Groningen KNVB Beker form: W W W
Groningen form (all competitions): W W W W W L
Fortuna Sittard KNVB Beker form: W W W
Fortuna Sittard form (all competitions): W L W D W D
Groningen will rely on Romano Postema in attack after Kevin van Veen’s departure, with Postema playing a vital role in their cup journey.
Lukkien has a full squad, possibly keeping Rui Mendes benched, awaiting his chance.
Sittard welcomes back Deroy Duarte after the Africa Cup of Nations, with Michael Verrips in goal following Ivor Pandur’s transfer.
Alen Halilovic, after scoring twice against Heerenveen, will likely start with Justin Lonwijk in midfield, replacing Tijjani Noslin.
Groningen possible starting lineup:
Bacuna, Rente, Bakker, Prins;
Schreuders, Pelupessy, Hove, Valente;
Van Bergen, Postema
Fortuna Sittard possible starting lineup:
Ivo Pinto, Guth, Siovas, Dijks;
Halilovic, Rosier, Lonwijk;
Inigo Cordoba, Sierhuis, Peterson
Prediction: Groningen 1-2 Fortuna Sittard
This match promises to be a close contest between two teams in form. Despite Groningen’s impressive run, Sittard’s quality might just tip the scales in their favor.