It is a winner-takes-all game when Southampton host Hapoel Be’er Sheva in their final Europa League group stage fixture on Thursday night. Both sides are level on points but all the Saints need is a draw at home to make it to the next round. The reverse fixture ended 0-0 at the Turner Stadium. Claude Puel’s boys have won both home games in the Europa League so far those were against Sparta Prague and Inter Milan and should be able to shrug off Hapoel Be’er Sheva at St. Mary’s.
The Saints went into last weekend in buoyant mood after a Premier League win over Everton and a surprise League Cup victory at Arsenal, but they were brought crashing back down to Earth by a Crystal Palace side that had lost their previous six Premier League outings. Claude Puel will hope that his boys learn from the disappointing defeat against Palace and bounce back to winning ways against the side from Israel.
Puel is known as a manager who is never afraid to rotate his squad. However, in this all-important game, Puel might not field a much weakened XI. They are playing Middlesbrough in the weekend which won’t be that much of a problem.
Here is the predicted Southampton lineup against Hapoel Be’er Sheva:
Fraser Forster will keep his place under the bar. Cedric Soares is an undisputed starter at right-back. Virgil van Dijk, one of the best defenders in the Premier League right now, will keep his place at the heart of the defence. The Dutch international is likely to be partnered by skipper Jose Fonte at the heart of the defence. We expect Ryan Bertrand to start at left-back ahead of youngster Sam McQueen. Matt Targett is still injured, otherwise, he could have been an option.
Oriol Romeu has been almost ever-present for the Saints this season at the base of midfield. The Spaniard will keep his place in midfield. Steven Davis is likely to start as one of the box to box midfielders. We expect James Ward-Prowse to start in midfield. The 22-year-old has been ever-present for Southampton in the Europa League and will be keen to impress once again.
Dusan Tadic is likely to miss with a minor injury and Sofiane Boufal is likely to start on the left flank. Nathan Redmond will keep his place on the right. Charlie Austin did not start in the midweek and should return to the starting XI against Everton.
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