UEFA Europa League Preview: Koeman plays down importance of Vitesse links

Southampton's Ronald Koeman comes up against his former club Vitesse in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.

Ronald Koeman maintains his Dutch coaching pedigree and experience at Vitesse will not necessarily serve as an advantage ahead of the first leg of Southampton's UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie.

The Premier League side play their first European game in 12 years at St Mary's Stadium on Thursday, as Koeman comes up against the club he managed between 2000 and 2001.

A brief spell with Vitesse preceded time coaching established European names such as Ajax and Valencia.

The Arnhem-based outfit regularly take players on loan from Premier League champions Chelsea and could call on the likes of Lewis Baker and Danilo Pantic during the first leg.

As such, Koeman expects a different test to the one offered by most Eredivisie sides, telling reporters: "Vitesse is a little bit different because they have the connection to Chelsea - and they have to change every season a lot of players.

"They lost five or six very good players but of course they bring in new young ones. We have to be prepared, all of them are good young players and they can play good football - that's positive.

"They don't come to defend and defend. They try to play football and that makes the game more open and that's good."

Thomas Tuchel will take charge of his first competitive Borussia Dortmund match against Austrian side Wolfsberger.

Dortmund, who are gearing up for a rare season outside the UEFA Champions League, have doubts over the fitness of Erik Durm and Neven Subotic ahead of the first leg at the Worthersee Stadion.

Walter Zenga's first meaningful outing as Sampdoria coach comes against Vojvodina, while Slaven Bilic will hope his West Ham side can step up a gear against Romanian outfit Astra after needing penalties to get past Maltese minnows Birkirkara.

Aberdeen face a Kairat side that includes former Champions League winner Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, and former UEFA Cup finalists AZ welcome Istanbul Basaksehir.

Greek pair PAOK and Atromitos take on Spartak Trnava and AIK respectively.

Scandinavia are well represented as, in addition to AIK, IFK Gothenburg play Belenenses. Elfsborg and Odd meet in Sweden and Brondby and Rosenborg face Omonia Nicosia and Debrecen respectively.

Athletic Bilbao and Bordeaux start their campaigns against Inter Baku and AEK Larnaca, Russian Premier League sides Rubin Kazan and Krasnodar face Sturm Graz and Slovan Bratislava, Qabala travel to Apollon and Slovan Liberec take on Ironi Kiryat Shmona of Israel.

Vitoria Guimaraes, Vorskla and Dinamo Minsk travel to Rheindorf Altach, Zilina and Zurich respectively, Thun welcome Vaduz and both Trabzonspor and Saint-Etienne are on the road at Rabotnicki and Targu Mures.

Belgian pair Standard Liege and Charleroi face Zeljeznicar and Zorya, while Hajduk Split play Stromsgodset and FK Kukesi host Legia Warsaw.