This is a final, says Rutten
Feyenoord can secure a place in the third preliminary round of the Europa League when they entertain Vitesse on Monday evening in the season’s last home match. Victory will seal third place in the Eredivisie for the hosts and coach Fred Rutten is fully aware of how important that is for the club. ‘This is a final. The whole group has a sense of that. You have to win a final.’
Rutten received confirmation on Friday morning that the game would not be played on Sunday afternoon as planned but on Monday evening, due to a police strike. As a result, preparations have been a little bit different at De Kuip. ‘But’s that not problematic for us. I have experienced games being called off at the last minute plenty of times,’ said Rutten on Friday. The coach will now take two squad training sessions over the weekend ahead of the match.
Preparations had already been affected by the sudden passing of Patrick Lodewijks’s wife. The squad attended the funeral together on Wednesday and Rutten gave everyone the next day off. ‘Everyone experiences and deals with something like that in his own way,’ said the coach. ‘They were very emotional days.’
When the players reported back to De Kuip on Friday it was clear that Terence Kongolo was able to join in squad training. The defender missed the last game away at FC Groningen with a groin problem. His return means that Rutten has a fit group to choose from against Vitesse. The suspended Khalid Boulahrouz is the only player unavailable to the coach, who will lead Feyenoord into battle at De Kuip for the last time.
Rutten said on Friday that he was looking forward to the game. ‘In training I see a group that wants to win. Unfortunately, in recent weeks what I have seen in games has not corresponded to what I have seen in training, but Monday it’s a final. I’m confident we will be up for it.’