Feyenoord shift focus to Twente
After qualifying for the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday night, Feyenoord now need to redirect their concentration fully back to the Eredivisie. The next fixture comes as early as Sunday and it’s a tough one, as Fred Rutten takes his side to FC Twente. The trip to Enschede rounds off the first phase of the season, with next week designated an international weekend.
The match at FC Twente was not the main subject of attention at De Kuip on Friday, though, which was no surprise given the drama of the Europa League play-off against Zorya Luhansk. Rutten ran the rule over the tie a day after the miraculous escape against the Ukrainians. ‘I had the feeling that the team thought the match was done and dusted when we went 3-0 up. In that period it became clear that we are not ready to play at 70%.’
Rutten could not be satisfied with the way his team gave away a three-goal lead, but he was pleased to note that his men responded well when Zorya equalised. ‘That was completely different against FC Utrecht a few days later,’ admitted the head coach. ‘There was no reaction from the team to falling behind, they did not believe they could put things right. In that respect I am happy with what I saw in the last ten minutes on Thursday. We increased the tempo and showed courage.’
The reward was a place in the group stage of the Europa League, something Rutten wanted to complement his team on. ‘Achieving European football was one of the goals and we’ve made it. It’s impressive, especially considering this group of players has little experience at international level. And there was huge pressure, too, because we never managed to get past the qualifying rounds for years.’
Rutten was unable to comment on how much the efforts against Zorya would affect his player’s sharpness and energy levels in Enschede. The coach said he wanted to wait until the final training session on Saturday. He did have some good news though: ‘Khalid Boulahrouz trained for the first time outside again. That’s a good step in his recovery for him.’