For FC Twente, hardly has the excitement of a first taste of the UEFA Champions League subsided and already the focus is turning towards the draw for the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
Twente may ultimately have come up short in their first crack at Europe's premier club competition, but Michel Preud'homme's side bowed out with their pride intact. There is no shame in finishing third in a section including holders FC Internazionale Milano and Tottenham Hotspur FC, and indeed having taken points off both, midfielder Wout Brama has every reason to look ahead with confidence to Friday's draw.
"I hope [we get] a beautiful team, but a team we can get past," the 24-year-old Dutch international said. "We have never gone further than this round in the Europa League, so it would be nice if we could take that step.
We have done well in the Champions League and I think we have a team capable of going a long way in the Europa League."
Local boy Brama is in his sixth season in the Twente first team and has seen the Enschede outfit take giant strides during that time. A key member of their Eredivisie-winning side last term, he featured in five of their UEFA Champions League Group A games this time around and feels that even if Twente missed the cut, they have grown from the experience.
"You are playing against the best players in Europe, and those are moments where you really improve and where you are really tested," he said. "They have so many individual qualities that you as a team have to compensate a lot, because we don't have so many individual qualities. I think we grew a lot there, especially as a team. Personally of course I have learned things as well, but I think we as a team have learned the most from it."
If UEFA Champions League football proved a steep learning curve, Bouma hopes those difficult lessons pay off in the UEFA Europa League. "I hope we have learned from the mistakes we made," he said. "We saw [in the 3-3 draw against Tottenham on Matchday 6] and also in the match against Bremen [1-1 on Matchday 3] what happens if you don't kill the match and make a 1-0 advantage count. It's a pity we didn't do that in the Champions League, but if we can do it better in the Europa League then we will have taken another good step."
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