The weekend demolition of Roda JC was great preparation for what is sure to be a tough game against CSKA Moscow at De Kuip on Thursday. Sunday’s victory took the pressure off the Feyenoord players ahead of a Uefa Cup group game that the Rotterdammers will feel they maybe have to get something out of. ‘We believed in ourselves, but now that’s been confirmed,’ explained Giovanni van Bronckhorst the day before the game.

The victory came at a great time for Gertjan Verbeek and his technical staff. ‘We want to keep this good feeling we have from the win against Roda JC,’ explained the coach Wednesday. ‘Though we shouldn’t just look at the result on Thursday. If we lose we can still qualify for the next round. Although it would be more difficult.’

Verbeek expects CSKA to be most focused on not losing in Rotterdam. Wim Jansen and Alex Pastoor were given the task of checking out the Russian side, when they lost their last chance at the title last weekend. Their analysis was that CSKA are a very defensive-minded team that nevertheless gives away a lot of chances. ‘They are a mentally strong team with a lot of individual qualities,’ said Verbeek. ‘Sometimes they defend with eleven men and they attack with no more than five players. They are very dangerous on the counter.’

CSKA will certainly give Feyenoord a tough test. Russian football is clearly on the up and there is a lot of money in the game there, although Verbeek was keen to let people know he didn’t think everything in football today is determined by the budget. Despite the huge discrepancy in funds the coach does not feel Feyenoord are chasing a lost cause. ‘I’m convinced we have a chance,’ said Verbeek. ‘We have to believe in each other. Supported by the crowd plus the chances they give away, I wouldn’t know why we couldn’t get our noses in front. For both teams it’s important to get in a good position.’

Feyenoord will face the Russians without Serginho Greene, who limped out of last Sunday’s game with a knee injury. Another defender Theo Lucius does return to the squad after coming through a reserve game. He starts on the bench. Dwight Tiendalli will start in place of Greene.


CSKA Moscow won three titles and two domestic cups between 2003 and 2006, and also netted the Uefa Cup two years after Feyenoord’s 2002 triumph. Another domestic cup has since been added to that collection, but the third place league finish last season was the club’s worst placing in six seasons.

This season’s title challenge has also floundered. Last Saturday’s 0-1 loss to city rivals Spartak left the Army Men trailing leaders Rubin Kazan by ten points with just three games left. It means the Russian Premier League trophy will go to the club from Tartarstan, leaving Moscow for the second successive season after Zenit St Petersburg’s triumph last year under Dick Advocaat.

Coach Valeri Gazzaev’s side are doing better in European competition. The club affectionately nicknamed the Horses started the group stages well with a convincing 3-0 win against Deportivo La Coruña. Striker Alan Dzagoev undid the Spaniards with two goals in the opening quarter of an hour.

Dzagoev is the new hope of CSKA. The 18-year-old has filled the gap left by Brazilian star Jô, who moved to Manchester City. He has 7 league goals to his name this campaign. The other Muscovite Brazilian Vágner Love is the Russian league top scorer at the moment with 13 strikes.

Save the loss of Jô, the core of the side that won the Uefa Cup in Lisbon back in 2005 are still at the club. Ten of the players in the team against Deportivo played in that final three and a bit years ago.

Gazzaev is the driving force of course. It was he who led the unknown Spartak-Alania Vladikavkaz to the title back in 1995 and his stint at CSKA has yielded seven further trophies. After five years in the hot seat Gazzaev feels he needs to pass on the reins to a new man and he’ll leave the club at the end of 2008.

He certainly doesn’t need to go elsewhere to find strong Russian talent. CSKA have some of the finest players the country can offer, including keeper Akinfejev, defenders Ignashevich and impressive midfielder Zhirkov.

Feyenoord – CSKA Moskou

Thursday 6 November, 19:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Moen (Norway)

Timmer; Tiendalli, Bahia, Hofland, De Cler; Wijnaldum, El Ahmadi, Fer, Van Bronckhorst; Makaay and Biseswar.
CSKA Moscow: Akinfeev; A. Berezutski, Ignashevich, V. Berezutski, Mamaev; Krasic, Aldonin, Dzagoev, Šemberas, Zhirkov; Vágner Love.
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