In the box seat, but Rutten is taking nothing for granted
After last week’s good result in Italy (1-1), Feyenoord fans everywhere are looking forward to the Thursday’s Europa League round of 32 second leg against AS Roma at De Kuip. The hosts look to be in a promising position to progress at the expense of their Roman opponents, but Fred Rutten is well aware that his side are in for a hard night. ‘From a European point of view 1-1 in an away game is a good result, but it does not guarantee anything with regard to tomorrow’s match,’ admitted a cagey head coach.
The result does tell the whole story of the away game in Rome, stressed Rutten in front of a packed conference room at De Kuip on Wednesday. ‘We had luck on our side. The battle plan we worked out in advance did the job it was supposed to, but there were a few moments when they were able to threaten. They have the quality to wait for us to make mistakes. That will be even more so at De Kuip tomorrow.’
Clearly, there’s still everything to play for, but while he is only too aware of the strength of top-level Italian football Rutten believes his side has prospects. ‘We definitely have the feeling that we can get something. We will go all out,’ said the coach, who can call upon Sven van Beek once again after missing the first leg at Stadio Olimpico as he recovered from a knee injury. It’s a big boost for Rutten, who has seen the young central defender in excellent form this season.
Hungry for success
Colin Kazim-Richards was similarly optimistic about his side’s chances. The Turkey international scored the all-important away goal in Italy last week. ‘Thanks to the 1-1 we returned to Rotterdam with a good result. We took the first step towards achieving our mission, which is getting into the next round. Hopefully we can finish it off tomorrow, that would be fantastic for everyone at this club. Our preparations have been perfect but we’ll have to work very hard. It could be a very special night, we realise that.’
Rutten, too, realises the impact the game against Roma and especially the possible advancement to the next round would have in Rotterdam. ‘People here are hungry for success, we saw that back when we survived the preliminary rounds and in the joy after we made it out of the group. We want to inspire that again tomorrow.’
Feyenoord will take on their Roman guests without Luke Wilkshire and Lex Immers, both of whom are suspended after picking up a booking last week.