Roda JC might feel differently, but for Feyenoord Sunday’s Eredivisie match at De Kuip is as much of a cup final as the official one next week at the same venue against the same opposition. Yes, Feyenoord are depending on other results going their way Sunday, but they know that a win against Roda JC could still earn them a place in the Champions League playoffs. Something Bert van Marwijk is fully aware of. ‘As long as you have a chance, you have to go for it,’ said the coach Friday. It means that Feyenoord will not be pulling any punches when they face Roda JC in the first of the clubs’ doubleheader. ‘We are not in the situation where we can pass anything up.’

The odds are stacked against Feyenoord of course, but the situation is not hopeless for all that. At least if Van Marwijk is to be believed. Heerenveen and FC Twente have to win their games against Excelsior and Willem II respectively to edge Feyenoord out in the event of a home win at De Kuip at the weekend. The coach was bullish about his team’s chances Friday. Van Marwijk is certainly not ready to throw in the towel. So much so that he appears to be prepared to play a not quite fit Denny Landzaat in the final game of the Eredivisie season proper. ‘If I leave Landzaat out on Sunday, I know he’ll be able to play in the cup final. But we don’t just have one important game; we have two important games coming up. I’ll still undecided. Perhaps the decision won’t be taken until the last moment,’ said the coach.

Compared with the eleven he fielded in last week’s away fixture in Tilburg, Van Marwijk will be able to draw on a much more experienced pool of players Sunday. Henk Timmer is likely to start and Giovanni van Bronckhorst is even very likely. A full game for Roy Makaay is possible, although Van Marwijk was unwilling to comment. ‘I will say that Makaay isn’t going to have a run-out in the reserves first to get up to match fitness. He’s a player that needs less than most other players.’

Van Marwijk did have a few words to say against Sunday’s opponents however. ‘They are a dangerous team, with a lot of speed up front. They are physically strong and they are well balanced in midfield. They are still a little inconsistent, but they’ve demonstrated they are able to do things. They lead 4-0 at one point in Eindhoven at PSV [a game they eventually won 4-2], which says enough.’

Roda JC travel to De Kuip Sunday for the first of two Sabbath games in Rotterdam against Feyenoord. The home side will be looking to win both encounters, but for the visitors the second meeting is by far the most important. With the Champions League playoffs out of reach and a place in the Uefa Cup playoffs already secure should they need it, Roda JC’s only goal Sunday will be to come through the match unscathed and to generate some confidence.

Raymond Atteveld’s side will probably by prioritising the cup final ahead of the last Eredivisie match of the season. A win at De Kuip next week will secure not only silverware but also a place in next season’s Uefa Cup. It will also give the Kerkrade outfit the opportunity to take an early holiday as it won’t have to battle for a Uefa Cup place in the playoffs, for which Roda JC have already placed.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Atteveld lines his players up in the first round of the Rotterdam-Kerkrade double header Sunday. The coach may decide to put out his best starting eleven, but considering the risk of injury or suspension ahead of the more important second game, he may be tempted to rest some players. He may also be tempted to try to confuse his opposite number by mixing up his tactics over the two encounters.

Roda JC have actually experienced a slightly disappointing season in the league compared with last year. They currently occupy eighth place whereas last year they ended sixth. Those extra two places mean little of course now we have the playoffs system. Last season’s playoff adventure by the way came to an end in the first knockout stage.

Feyenoord – Roda JC
Sunday 20 April, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Vink

Timmer; Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Fer (Landzaat), Van Bronckhorst, Sahin; Bruins, Mols (Makaay), De Guzman.
Roda JC: Castro; Sonkaya, De Fauw, Kah, De Jong; Bodor, Meeuwis, W. Janssen; Hadouir, Van Tornhout, Lamah.

04/03/2007 Feyenoord - Roda JC 1-1
22/01/2006 Feyenoord - Roda JC 0-0
13/03/2005 Feyenoord - Roda JC 4-1
28/03/2004 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-0
29/05/2003 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-1
16/09/2007 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-3
29/10/2006 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-2
20/11/2005 Roda JC - Feyenoord 2-3
17/10/2004 Roda JC - Feyenoord 0-2
19/10/2003 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-1
Feyenoord Business CLub