Koeman: ‘We’ll have to be very good to advance’
This week, all minds at Feyenoord have been focused on Thursday’s crucial second leg of the Europa League play-off round against Kuban Krasnodar at De Kuip. The 0-1 defeat in Russia last week puts the pressure on Feyenoord, but coach Ronald Koeman and Jordy Clasie see plenty of opportunities to advance to the group stage. The duo looked forward to the encounter on Wednesday in a press conference at De Kuip.
Koeman feels that his side need to be efficient in front of goal on Thursday if they are to turn the tie around. ‘We need to take our chances,’ said the Feyenoord head coach, who witnessed his side spurn a bunch of them against NAC Breda at the weekend. ‘Kuban will defend a lot of better. And they will put a lot of effort into keeping Graziano Pellè quiet, which for us means that we have to be a threat down the wings and through the middle. We must not only depend on Graziano.’
Koeman expressed the hope that his team would be able to create more opportunities on Thursday than in the game in Russia, but said it was just as important to be wary of Kuban’s dangerous counter-attacking capabilities. ‘So we’ll have to find a better balance in our approach. Because of last week’s 1-0 they have the advantage, they can wait for the right opportunity to push forward quickly. Our concentration will be very important in that respect, as will choosing the right moments to turn up the pressure on the opponents. We’ll have to be very good.’
Feyenoord will certainly have taken confidence from last Sunday’s game. By putting their opponents under pressure early on they ensured NAC Breda never got into the game. ‘We were very compact as a team and we closed down the spaces,’ said Clasie, who put in a strong performance. ‘That’s how we want to play on Thursday, although the standard is a lot higher in Europe. It was already clear to see in the first leg how the tiniest mistakes were punished.’
Clasie feels that an extended European run is important to the development of the team. ‘Ultimately that improves every player. And it’s also important for the club to reach the group stage. Kuban are strong opponents, but in a full stadium with the crowd behind us we have a good chance.’