The clubs look evenly matched when you glance at the table but Verbeek feels that his side is better than their position in the table would suggest. ‘Fact is we are too lowly placed. We have to get some points. Sparta are also in the lower reaches and it’s a side Feyenoord should normally take points from. The only thing is it’s not a given.’
The coach realises only too well that city derbies are not always like other games. People approach them differently. ‘Players, but the people in the stand too of course.’
Last year’s meeting at Het Kasteel is a prime example. Feyenoord had a lot of opportunities to put the game to bed, but their sloppiness in front of goal came back to haunt them when the hosts claimed all three points with a last-gasp winner. Referee Dick Jol also played a big role in the game, failing to spot hands by Nourdin Boukhari when the Moroccan scored and ruling out a perfectly good goal by Luigi Bruins.
Feyenoord also had a goal incorrectly chalked off against Heerenveen at the weekend, but Verbeek was not in the mood for moaning. ‘We’ll have luck on our side one time too where that’s concerned?’ he mused.
Verbeek expects to put out an unchanged side against Sparta, although Karim El Ahmadi may join the squad again after missing the Heerenveen game with an ankle injury. El Ahmadi trained with the squad Tuesday morning. Verbeek will wait and see how the player feels on the day of the game before taking a decision.
Back in the fifties the visit of Feyenoord was the highlight of Sparta’s season, but the Rotterdam derby is perhaps less significant these days. That being said, the encounter between the two clubs is still a prestige-filled occasion. Not least this time round, as Sparta could dump Feyenoord in the bottom three by recording a victory.
Only goal difference separates Sparta from Feyenoord in the table. Both clubs have five points from seven games, but Feyenoord have scored more and conceded less, so it’s Sparta that currently finds itself third bottom. Heavy defeats at home to ADO Den Haag on the opening day of the season (2-5) and at AZ a couple of games ago (0-6) have not helped Sparta’s cause.
The league placing pretty much confirms Sparta’s less than impressive start to the season, but Foeke Booy’s side has managed to pick up four points at home. A 1-0 victory against Booy’s former club FC Utrecht was followed up with a 2-2 draw against Roda JC.
Feyenoord will also be aware that Sparta claimed all three points in last year’s meeting at het Kasteel. The 3-2 win earned Sparta maximum points against their city rivals for the first time since 1995 thanks to an injury-time winner from Marvin Emnes.
Foeke Booy’s side will have a go at repeating the trick without new signing Sander van Gessel, who broke his collarbone in the 3-0 defeat at Groningen last Sunday.
Sparta Rotterdam – Feyenoord
Wednesday 28 October, 20:00 at Het Kasteel stadium
Feyenoord: Timmer; Greene, Bahia, Hofland, De Cler; Wijnaldum, Fer, El Ahmadi (Bruins), Van Bronckhorst; Makaay and Biseswar.
Sparta Rotterdam: Wapenaar; Vermes, Adeleye, Knol, Slijngard; Falkenburg, Slot, Strootman; Dissels, Rose and John.
26/12/2007 Feyenoord - Sparta Rotterdam 2-0
23/12/2006 Feyenoord - Sparta Rotterdam 3-2
19/02/2006 Feyenoord - Sparta Rotterdam 4-0
19/08/2001 Feyenoord - Sparta Rotterdam 5-0
29/11/2000 Feyenoord - Sparta Rotterdam 2-1
23/03/2008 Sparta Rotterdam - Feyenoord 3-2
10/09/2006 Sparta Rotterdam - Feyenoord 1-4
21/08/2005 Sparta Rotterdam - Feyenoord 1-3
24/03/2002 Sparta Rotterdam - Feyenoord 0-5
15/10/2000 Sparta Rotterdam - Feyenoord 1-4