By SFC Media Wed 26 Aug Club

FC Midtjylland head coach Jess Thorup believes Southampton are still favourites to progress to the group stage of the UEFA Europa League.

Despite seeing his side earn a 1-1 draw in the first leg at St Mary’s last week, Thorup feels his team will need to score at the MCH Arena on Thursday if they are to secure their passage to the next round.

Tim Sparv opened the scoring last week for the visitors at St Mary’s, with Jay Rodriguez’s penalty ensuring the first leg ended level, and Thorup believes the pressure is on Saints.

“I still don’t see us as favourites, and if we are going to progress then we need to reach the same level of effort as we did in the first leg,” Thorup told reporters ahead of Thursday’s game.

“I do not believe that we will be successful if we fail to score on Thursday.

“The pressure is obviously on Southampton as they have to score, but taking their qualities into consideration, I expect that we will have to score.

“I hope that from our away games in Europe, and given our league form, we have the experience and skill to be successful.”

Thorup admits he’s unsure what approach Koeman will adopt in Denmark on Thursday night, having seen the Dutchman change Saints’ style during the second half of the first leg.

Midtjylland’s boss also feels his side will need to defend much better than they did during the second period at St Mary’s.

He added: “I have watched the first match a couple of times and I am pondering what moves Ronald Koeman will have in store.

“He wants to play the passing game but changed things in the first match and played a more direct game in the second half.

“I expect Southampton to mix up their style a bit more in the return leg and we are very focused on stopping the early ball forward,” he continued.

“It created problems for us at St Mary’s as we, at times, stood too deep defensively. We are looking to defend those attack patterns better.”

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