Getting to know our Europa Conference League group stage opponents
Tue 14 September 2021, 12:45|Tottenham Hotspur
As we prepare to kick-off our Europa Conference League group stage campaign this Thursday with a trip to Stade Rennais (5.45pm UK), we take a look at the key facts, information and connections between us and our Group G opponents.
Placed into the group as top seeds, we were joined by the Ligue 1 side from Rennes, Vitesse Arnhem from the Netherlands and Slovenian outfit NS Mura as part of last month’s draw in Istanbul, Turkey.
Here's everything you need to know about our upcoming European opponents...
We will make our first trip to France in eight years on Thursday. Last travelling to our neighbours across the English Channel to take on Lyon in February, 2013, where a late stunner from Mousa Dembele booked us a place in the Europa League round of 16, we return to the French Republic this week for our first ever meeting with Rennes.
Stade Rennais (France)
Manager: Bruno Genesio
Stadium: Roazhon Park (29,778 capacity)
Last season: Sixth in Ligue 1 and group stages of the Champions League
Located in the north west of France in the region of Brittany, the city of Rennes is just 50 kilometres from the English Channel with Stade Rennais' home, Roazhon Park, situated five kilometres west of the city centre, north of the Arsenal-Redon district.
Having finished sixth in France’s top flight last season, Rennes qualified - like ourselves - for a place in the Europa Conference League play-off round and went on to book their place in the group stages of the competition with an impressive 5-1 aggregate win over Norwegian side Rosenborg.
Qualifying for Europe in each of the last four seasons, they made their debut in the Champions League last term, finishing bottom of Group E below Chelsea, Sevilla and Krasnodar. The furthest they have progressed in a European competition was to the Europa League round of 16 in the 2018/19 season where they were ultimately defeated 4-3 over two legs by Arsenal.
The Gunners and Chelsea are two of three English sides that Rennes have faced competitively over the years with Aston Villa completing the trio - they faced a David Ginola-sporting Villa in the semi-finals of the 2001 Intertoto Cup. In their six meetings to date with English sides, they have been victorious twice, losing the other four.
The French side are led by Bruno Genesio, a French manager who has previously been in charge of Lyon - where he coached Tanguy Ndombele - as well as Chinese side Beijing Guoan. He returned to France to take up the Rennes job in March, earlier this year.
Two former Spurs players have been on Rennes’ books with Stephane Dalmat (2003/04) and Erik Edman (2004/05) having represented the Rouge et Noir.
Two years on from one of the most famous nights in our history, we will return to the Netherlands this year with Vitesse Arnhem joining us in Group G.
With that magical night in Amsterdam still fresh in our minds as Lucas Moura’s second-half hat-trick against Ajax sent us through to the 2019 Champions League Final, we’ll be heading back across the North Sea this term to take on Vitesse.
Vitesse Arnhem (The Netherlands)
Manager: Thomas Letsch
Stadium: GelreDome (21,248 capacity)
Last season: Fourth in the Eredivisie
At home in Arnhem - an eastern Dutch city in the province of Gelderland, 20 kilometres from the German border - the municipality is sundered by two connecting rivers, the Nederrijn and the Sint-Jansbeek, with Vitesse’s home ground, the GelreDome, located south of the city.
Finishing fourth in the Eredivisie last season, the Dutch outfit qualified for the Europa Conference League third qualifying round. Defeating Irish side Dundalk at that stage, 4-3 on aggregate, they then edged past Anderlecht of Belgium in the play-off round to earn their place in the group stages.
It is Vitesse’s first season back in European competition having missed out in both 2019/20 and 2020/21, and it is just the second time in their history that they have ever reached the group stages of a European competition, having initially done so in the 2017/18 edition of the Europa League.
We will be the fourth English side that Vitesse have faced on the continent with the Dutch outfit having previously taken on a Ruel Fox-sporting Norwich City in the first round of the 1993/94 UEFA Cup, a Danny Murphy-sporting Liverpool in the third round of the competition in 2002/03 and most recently a Victor Wanyama, Steven Caulker and Paulo Gazzaniga-sporting Southampton in the 2015/16 Europa League third qualifying round. They failed to score in all six games.
The Arnhem-based side are managed by Thomas Letsch, a German coach who began his coaching career in his homeland before moving to Austria and then onto the Netherlands. Beginning as player-manager with VfB Oberesslingen/Zell, his local side in Esslingen, just east of Stuttgart, he later was placed in caretaker charge of Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg and then Austria Wien. He was then appointed at Vitesse in May, 2020.
One former Spur has worn the colours of Vitesse - that was Willem Korsten, who signed for us from the Dutch side in August, 1999, and spent two years in north London before he was forced to retire due to injury in October, 2001, at the age of 26. We've also faced Vitesse before, in a friendly in the summer of 2000 - Darren Anderton and Steffen Iversen on target in a 2-0 win.
For the first time in nine years, we’ll head to Slovenia in European competition with NS Mura completing Group G.
We last visited the eastern European nation in October, 2012, drawing 1-1 with Maribor at the Stadion Ljudski vrt - Slovenia’s former national stadium - and we’ll return to that ground in November for matchday five of the Europa Conference League.
NS Mura (Slovenia)
Manager: Ante Simundza
Stadium: Stadion Ljudski vrt (11,671 capacity)
Last season: Champions of the Slovenian PrvaLiga
Based in Murska Sobota, a town in the north east of Slovenia, Mura - a team only established in May, 2012 - is located 10 kilometres from the northern border with Austria, 20 kilometres from the eastern border with Hungary and 21 kilometres from the southern border with Croatia. Our fixture in Slovenia, however, will not be hosted at Mura’s home ground, the Fazanerija City Stadium, due to UEFA regulations and instead will be held at Maribor's Stadion Ljudski vrt.
Winning the Slovenian PrvaLiga for the first time last season, Mura edged Maribor on head-to-head points, after going to the 15-time league champions on the final day of the campaign and winning 3-1.
Their league triumph earned them a place in the first qualifying round of the Champions League which they progressed through, defeating KF Shkendija - opponents of ours in the Europa League last season - however they couldn’t overcome Ludogorets – also adversaries of ours in Europe last season - in the second qualifying round. Defeat saw the Slovenian side reassigned to the Europa League’s third qualifying round where they defeated Lithuanian side Zalgris, but they then couldn’t get the better of Sturm Graz of Austria in the play-off round. They were then admitted to the Europa Conference League group stages.
This is the first time they have ever been in a group stage of a European competition and just the second Slovenian side after Maribor to be in the group stages of a European competition. They have also never played an English side in a competitive match.
The Murska Sobota-based side are coached by Ante Simundza, a Slovenian coach who played for the likes of Maribor, Young Boys and Malmo during his career, as well as the Slovenian national team. He began his managerial career with Mura in 2011, prior to the team being dissolved, when they were known as Mura 05. He later coached his former side Maribor between 2013 and 2015, winning two league titles and qualifying for the Champions League group stages in 2014. He returned to the renamed NS Mura in June, 2017, and has taken them from the Slovenian Second League all the way to the nation’s top flight title in just four years, with the 2020 Slovenian Cup also picked up along the way.