CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) eyes up Southampton’s trip to Isreal on Thursday in the Europa League.
Hapoel Beer Sheva v Southampton | Thursday 18:00 | BT Sport Europe
Hapoel Beer Sheva produced one of the most eye-catching results of the season so far two weeks ago when they beat an Inter side 2-0 at the San Siro. This came just a month after being torn apart 5-2 by Celtic in Glasgow in Champions League qualifying.
In all honesty, it’s hard to form a solid picture of this team. On the positive side they’ve won in the San Siro, knocked out Olympiakos and beat Celtic 2-0 in Israel. In the other camp, they struggled to get past Moldovan side Sheriff in the early rounds of the Champions League and conceded five in Glasgow.
Matchday 1 was just the trigger Southampton needed to kick-start their season and Claude Puel’s reign. Their 3-0 win over Sparta Prague ended a run of four games without victory and from there they’ve kicked on to record three straight wins without conceding a goal.
This looks a perfect competition for Southampton if they can stay comfortable in the league table. It’s a real opportunity for them to put their name up on European lights in a similar vein to Leicester in the Champions League. I really hope they embrace it.
Puel has decided to rest a few key names for the long trip to the Middle East and the in-form Charlie Austin joins Jose Fonte, Ryan Bertrand and Steven Davis on the absence list.
I still think class will out here and Southampton will get the job done. With the likes of Virgil Van Dijk and Dusan Tadic likely to be amongst the starting line up there should be a gulf in talent against a side who look the weakest in the group.
Hapoel’s win over Inter was very impressive two weeks ago but the Milanese can be prone to poor results in Europe and struggled against Qarabag in this competition two years ago.
Hapoel Beer Sheva v Southampton – Southampton to win (5/4 Bet365)