Hapoel Be'er Sheva vs Southampton: Match preview and predicted line-up
Southampton have improved in recent weeks as the players are beginning to get to grips with Claude Puel’s style of play. The Frenchman wants to play with a 4-3-1-2 and it is a significant change from last season, with emphasis placed on the full-backs. They have now won their last four matches in all competitions and haven’t conceded a goal in the process. Momentum is building on the South Coast and they will be hoping for another positive result in Israel.
The Europa League is an undervalued competition due to the scheduling difficulties that it brings. However, for a club like Southampton, it offers fans the chance to follow their club around Europe and an outside chance of Champions League football. There was disappointment last season as Southampton failed to qualify for the group stages after working hard to qualify for the competition. This season, it looks like Claude Puel is taking the Europa League seriously and that is how English sides should treat the competition.
After a good opening victory over Sparta Prague, Southampton have a tricky trip to face Hapoel Be’er Sheva, who have beaten Celtic and Inter Milan this season. They have made the decision to keep some players at home, as Puel tries to manage his squad effectively, but they will still be confident of picking up another three points.
Southampton have found their stride, winning their last four matches in all competitions. The performances have been encouraging and they will be confident of another successful campaign. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to surpass the league finish of last year, due to the increased competition in the Premier League.
Their opponents this week have started the season well and are currently third in the Israeli Premier League. They shouldn’t be underestimated and will offer a stern test on Thursday. In the league this season, they have conceded just three goals in five games and will look to be tight at the back against Southampton.
Predicted line-up for Southampton
Southampton have left several key players at home for this one as the manager tries to limit the possibility for injuries. Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Davis and Charlie Austin have not travelled to Israel, but there will still be a strong side that is fielded in Israel. Shane Long is expected to come back into the first XI, while Matt Targett and Maya Yoshida will also feature.
There will be a few players missing for Southampton through injury on Thursday. Sofiane Boufal is yet to make his debut for the club and once again will not be involved in Israel. Jeremy Pied and Jay Rodriguez will also be missing for the English club.
It will be a tough game for Southampton as Hapoel have showed that they can compete in European competition. The English side have confidence and should be looking to get another win on Thursday. Although it has taken for Puel to get his tactical ideas across to his players, they have now started to hit form and I expect them to get the three points on Thursday. They have an excellent opportunity to win this group, given the loss for Inter Milan during the opening round of fixtures and I expect them to do just that.
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