If you’ve been wondering just how good a team Vitesse really are, or how they generally stand in their league, here’s an interesting stat — since 2012/13, they have only failed to make (at least) the Europa League qualifying rounds on two occasions. This season they were given direct entry into the group stages by virtue of winning the KNVB Beker but every other time, it’s been via emerging victorious from the play-off matches, contested by teams placed between 4th and 7th.
Hence, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they’ve only gone and done it again this season. The long-time Chelsea affiliates opened up their passage to next season’s Europa League by first destroying ADO Den Haag 7-3 on aggregate, with Chelsea loanee Mason Mount contributing to four of his side’s goals (3 scored, 1 assist). Vitesse then beat FC Utrecht 3-2 at the GelreDome, with Mount chipping in with a headed finish. Unfortunately, he also picked up a booking which meant he’d miss the second leg of the final due to an accumulation of bookings.
Utrecht playing at a slightly higher level of performance than Vitesse all season, it was never going to be easy to get a result there but they ran out 1-2 winners (3-5 agg.) and without their talisman in Mason Mount, at that.
Instead, it was Matt Miazga who got his name on the scoresheet, adding a second goal for Vitesse in the 38th minute with an absolute bullet of a header.
The last time Vitesse played in the Europa League qualifiers, they were drawn against Southampton. The Premier League side beat them quite comfortably, with Chelsea youngsters Lewis Baker and Izzy Brown playing both legs. Vitesse have also previously faltered at this stage against the likes of Petrolul Ploiesti of Romania and Anzhi of Russia but hopefully things will be different this time around, in spite of returns for neither Miazga nor Mount looking likely.
If they do manage to make it to the group stages, it’d be an excellent opportunity for the next crop of Chelsea youngsters heading to Arnhem to gain some valuable European football experience. Who knows, maybe a twist of fate will see Chelsea and Vitesse’s paths intertwine as well!