As said previous; Utrecht look decent, if not very spectacular. Unlike Braga, they do have a few players that we would know about and could easily cause the defence a few problems. Players such as Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Michael Silberbauer and Jacob Lensky spring to mind at a glance.
Van Wolfswinkel is by far the most obvious danger. The 21-year-old recently got called up by the Dutch squad for the first time for the match against Ukraine, and he looks to have started the season in decent form – he scored in their 3-1 defeat at Feyenoord at the weekend and has scored four goals in Utrecht’s five opening competitive games.
If Loovens, Hooiveld or whoever is at the back for the game has a hint of a bad game, then there’s absolutely no doubt that van Wolfswinkel will be causing us some major problems.
Utrecht also have more than a decent goalkeeper in Michel Vorm. The 26-year-old was one of the goalkeepers in the Dutch World Cup squad and despite having an average defence in front of him, will be very hard to beat.
In terms of formation, Utrecht played a standard 4-4-2 away to Feyenoord at the weekend. Despite playing a 4-3-1-2 for some of last season, with Dries Mertens being rather effective in ‘the hole’, they look as if they can change things about pretty efficiently without much fuss.
They have a good ball-playing team who seem technically suited to the ball, and with the likes of Silberbauer already playing against us for Copenhagen and Lensky out to prove a point, our midfield will have more than a battle in their hands.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel has already been detailed, but it looks like he’ll start with the big Zambian striker Jacob Mulenga. From what I’ve read, he seems quite an important player for the team, despite his lack of goals. He doesn’t look the striker that will ever score the excess of 15-20 goals a season, but his workload and physicality is vital to the team. Emile Heskey anyone?
As you can see from the YouTube clip provided from their game at the weekend, their defence doesn’t look entirely great. They are definitely no Braga in terms of organisation and stability, but we will have to create more than two shots at goal to get through this tie.
The thing you have to watch about this team is when you are looking for goals and ultimately put the tie to bed before the second leg, is that Utrecht can be quite tasty on the counter attack. When you have a player that can supply balls in Mertens to a goalscorer like van Wolfswinkel, you will always have that lingering thought in the back of your mind that it can turn in an instant.
Unlike Celtic, Utrecht have a pretty gelled team and haven’t really strengthened that much this summer. Their only buys have been three young Australian players; Tommy Oar, Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota from Brisbane Roar.
As stated before – Utrecht do have a touch of Braga about them; we could have been drawn with a far more difficult team in Trabzonspor or even Grasshopper to a certain extent. That in no way means we can underestimate Utrecht, and despite what others may think, I think we did with Braga a little.
They are a team on the rise; they were taken over by a group of investors a couple of years ago and have recently stated they want to challenge for the Eredivisie within five years. The investment has given the club more stability and the opportunity to expand on youth facilities and such.
The draw is a little more special for the fans, as apparently Utrecht, like Hamburg, are part of the ‘No Surrender’ ‘family’, meaning they’re loyalist idiots who probably like a square go from time-to-time.
With that, it should be a good tie, and far more even than the Braga one was. But let’s be honest; if Celtic can’t beat a team who finished 7th in the Eredivisie last season then we really don’t deserve to be in the Europa league next season.