History is to be made on Thursday night as Racing Santander and Honka as both clubs are participating in European competition for the first-time in their histories.
Six seasons of stability in Spain’s top-flight at Santander has been rewarded with a UEFA Cup slot after they overachieved with a 6th place finish last season. Usually fighting in the trenches of La Liga with the ambition of securing their status, Racing are living the high-life and have started the season emphatically and will be confident of achieving on both fronts. Despite only picking up two points out of a possible six, it was against the opposition which must be admired. Barcelona and Sevilla failed to beat Santander and the Spaniards will be favourites to advance at the expense of Honka. A cautious approach to European competition is advised as there could be a danger in coping with both domestic and continental commitments, a matter which Santander’s resources may struggle to cope with.
Standout Player: Jorge Lopez
Since their takeover in 2005, Honka have emphatically been a story of success since their depressing days which threatened bankruptcy. Promotion allowed Honka to showcase their potential on Finland’s biggest stage and cup heroics last term rewarded the Espoo outfit with European glamour in the UEFA Cup. Overcoming Icelandic opposition Arkanes was relatively straightforward, but Honka gained admirers for their exploits in beating Norway’s FK Viking at the next hurdle. With an impressive range of neat passing, Honka function effectively as a team and will hope to use their offensive-minded full-backs to deal the damage on Santander.
Standout Player: Hermanni Vourinen