Feyenoord aiming to strengthen grip on second place
After last week’s win against RKC Waalwijk Ronald Koeman hung up the latest Eredivisie table in the first-team dressing room. The attention it got from the players told the coach that they are taking the race for second, which Feyenoord lead after five wins on the bounce, very seriously indeed. They can show that on the pitch too, when they take on rivals PSV at the Philips Stadium. A win will reinforce Feyenoord’s credentials, but Koeman recognises that his side will have to play well to secure it. ‘Away matches at PSV have not gone great for us in recent years,’ said the coach, reminding his audience that Feyenoord have not won a league match in Eindhoven since 2004.
Koeman was also quick to point out that PSV are a strong unit this term, despite currently only occupying fifth place. ‘They are a very talented group, with a number of high-quality players. Taking their personnel into account, I feel they should be higher up. That’s partly down to the inconsistent performances this season. They’ve lost the last two matches, but they won eight in a row before that.’
Feyenoord have taken full advantage of those two reverses to power past PSV in recent weeks and take a big step towards direct qualification for European football, the club’s stated aim. The Rotterdammers have taken 15 points from the last five matches, opening up a seven-point lead over fifth, which is a playoff spot. A good result in Eindhoven will guarantee Feyenoord a top-four finish.
Recent results have bred confidence at De Kuip, but remains critical of his team, not least how they have played in the past two fixtures. ‘In footballing terms we were substandard against Heracles and RKC. The positive thing is that we have been taking maximum points for weeks. That has enabled us to take a big step towards second place, which is the best we can achieve after the setbacks against FC Twente and Ajax.’
It is still uncertain whether Koeman will be able to call on Miquel Nelom at the Philips Stadium. The left-sided defender has a knee problem. A decision will be taken on his availability after Saturday training.