Rutten taking Standard Liege ‘very seriously’
The Feyenoord squad arrived at Liege’s Stade Maurice Dufrasne on Wednesday afternoon in time for a training session ahead of Thursday night’s Europa League fixture against Standard. But first, coach Fred Rutten and midfielder Jens Toornstra fielded questions from the press at the stadium.
Rutten took the opportunity to stress to his audience of Dutch and Belgian journalists that his side were approaching the final group match-up as they always do. The Rotterdammers have already earned a place in the last 32, but Rutten sees no reason for laxity.
‘We are taking tomorrow’s game very seriously. If we win we go into the knockout phase as group winners, which can be an advantage in next week’s draw. For that reason we are not planning to rest any players, unless there are lads who show signs of needing it.’
Feyenoord did travel south without Miquel Nelom and Karim El Ahmadi. Both players are a booking away from a one-match ban. ‘I think it’s only normal for me not to take any risks,’ explained Rutten. ‘Miquel is a defender and it’s always possible that during a game a situation arises that comes with the threat of a yellow card. I want to avoid that, just as I do with El Ahmadi. Karim is a passionate player and he also has a few aches and pains.’
Standard Liege have not had a settled team in recent weeks, but Rutten feels his men know what they can expect in Belgium. ‘We are ready for anything,’ he explained – including a side with less experience than usual. ‘The weekend’s game against Club Bruges is a big one for them. I wouldn’t take any risks in their shoes. On the other hand, we have to focus on ourselves and play to our strengths.’
Jens Toornstra does not feel that the loss of two regular starters in Liege necessarily puts Feyenoord at a disadvantage. ‘We have a strong squad, so it’ll be fine. And it’s a load off your mind to know that you are already assured of a place in the next round. That does not change our intention in the least, though. We have come here to get a good result.’