‘DEFINITELY READY FOR THIS GAME,’ SAYS VLEMMINGS

Five places and 15 points separate Feyenoord from PSV, but Leon Vlemmings for one does not feel that Sunday’s match-up is any less mouth-watering than normally. The caretaker admitted Friday that he’s really up for the game. ‘This match is coming at a good time for us. We have clearly improved in recent weeks, so it’s nice to get the opportunity to show it against such opposition.’

Vlemmings tested his squad thoroughly in the week leading up to the game and also saw Diego Biseswar, Henk Timmer and Kevin Hofland return to the fold. All three will start on Sunday. ‘Places in the team and on the bench are getting more expensive,’ commented Vlemmings. ‘The competition is getting tougher, which can only be good.’

The football being played by Vlemmings’ team is not of the very highest calibre, but the team’s attitude in recent games has encouraged the caretaker. ‘When you turn a 0-1 deficit against NAC into a win it says something about the willingness the team has to go for it together.’

‘Affelay is Affelay’, is how Vlemmings described the man in form at PSV. ‘We know that he is key when he’s on fire, but you do the rest of their team a disservice if you say neutralising him removes 60% or 70% of the threat they pose. We are considering how we will solve that, without it compromising our way of playing too much.’

The games between the clubs are usually exciting encounters and Vlemmings is certainly looking forward to this one. ‘Feyenoord versus PSV is a great draw. I hope De Kuip is sold out. We are definitely ready for this game.’

THE OPPOSITION

It’s looking increasingly likely that PSV will not be in the Champions League next season. The club from Eindhoven have won four league titles on the bounce and qualified for the knockout stage of Uefa’s premier competition three times in a row before this season’s effort, but this year they were knocked out in the group stage and they are currently languishing in fifth place in the Eredivisie.

The departures of Jefferson Farfan and Heurelho Gomes in the summer were serious setbacks of course, but the supporters felt their club still had enough to extend their fantastic league record. They were also pleased with new coach Huub Stevens, who is PSV through and through.

Then reality started to bite. The elimination from the Champions League was a disappointment, but no crime, considering the opposition in the group stage. But further elimination from the domestic cup competition and an epidemic of dropped points in the league led to ever-louder grumblings in Eindhoven.

Stevens was shown the door back in January, with his assistant Dwight Lodeweges taking charge. A couple of comfortable wins later and PSV appeared to be back on track for second place and a place in Champions League second qualifying round, but matches against their rivals for that spot – sc Heerenveen and FC Twente – turned out badly.

PSV now find themselves nine points down on Steve McClaren’s outfit in second and six behind Marc van Basten’s Ajax in third. Even Trond Sollied’s third-place Heerenveen have a five-point cushion, so PSV are going to have to pull out all the stops in the last eight games, starting Sunday at De Kuip.

EREDIVISIE
Feyenoord – PSV
Sunday 15 March, 12:30 at De Kuip

Referee: Blom

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Bahia, Hofland, Van Bronckhorst; El Ahmadi, Tomasson, Fer; Wijnaldum, Makaay and Biseswar.
PSV: Isaksson; Culina, Bréchet, Marcellis, Salcido; Méndez, Afellay, Simons; Lazovic, Toivonen and Dzsudzsák.

STATISTICS
HOME
12/01/2008 Feyenoord - PSV 0-1
26/12/2006 Feyenoord - PSV 1-1
11/12/2005 Feyenoord - PSV 1-0
12/12/2004 Feyenoord - PSV 3-3
21/09/2003 Feyenoord - PSV 1-3
AWAY
21/12/2008 PSV - Feyenoord 1-0
23/09/2007 PSV - Feyenoord 4-0
17/09/2006 PSV - Feyenoord 2-1
12/04/2006 PSV - Feyenoord 1-1
15/05/2005 PSV - Feyenoord 4-2

BIG MATCH FACTS
Feyenoord entertain PSV for the 53rd time in the Eredivisie. The hosts have won the fixture 23 times, the visitors have 9 victories. The teams have ended all square 20 times.

Jon Dahl Tomasson is two goals away from his 100th Eredivisie goal. Besides 61 strikes for Feyenoord, the Dane netted 37 times for Heerenveen.

The 12 April 1987 fixture finished 1-1 after a very curious incident late on. PSV keeper Hans van Breukelen bounced the ball ahead of a kick-out only for it to hit a clump of grass and stop dead on the ground. Van Breukelen picked the ball up, which was against the rules, so the referee had no alternative but to award an indirect free kick, which resulted in Keje Molenaar equalising on behalf of Feyenoord.


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