FEYENOORD AIM TO PLAY THEMSELVES INTO THE RIGHT FRAME OF MIND

After Thursday evening’s hard-fought cup win against FC Zwolle Bert van Marwijk suggested that his side were ‘uptight’. The coach had just watched his Feyenoord – third in the Eredivisie table – scrape past their first division opponents despite starting brightly. The visitors’ equaliser late in the first half had the effect of tensing the home side up and a number of players, ‘even those with international experience’, were unable to wrestle back the initiative, which did not help the team’s performance.

Sunday is a chance for Feyenoord to start playing more convincing football. The key will be a couple of early goals. Feyenoord were unable to kick on against Zwolle after taking control in the opening stages and goals are the only thing that will help relax the Rotterdammers against NEC Sunday.

Van Marwijk did mention Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s performance in the cup as a plus point. The skipper was happy to roll his sleeves up and did not appear to be lacking in confidence in any shape or form. That’s why the coach will be so disappointed that Van Bronckhorst is not at all certain to be fit enough to lead the line against NEC. The midfielder got a kick in the knee against Zwolle, which kept him out of squad training Friday.

While his team’s performances in recent weeks are hardly cause for jubilation for Van Marwijk, the actual results have been encouraging. Feyenoord have won three out of the last four matches, drawing the other one. ‘Maybe that will give us a bit of confidence back,’ said Van Marwijk Thursday.

The coach will look to extend that unbeaten run Sunday without long-term absentees Ron Vlaar and Tim Vincken, while Andwelé Slory (hamstring) and Chun-Soo Lee (foot) are also ruled out. Kevin Hofland is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against Heracles.

THE OPPOSITION

Those who like to have a flutter will have learned not to put too much money on the outcome of NEC matches this season. The Nijmegen outfit have blown hot and cold throughout the season, much like the Dutch weather. To paraphrase a certain Mr Gump, every game is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

When they are on song they are liable to reach the highest notes, as the recent 5-2 mauling of AZ proves. Characteristically, NEC followed that up by breaking a string, with 0-1 home defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Excelsior.

Coach Mario Been has expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation a number of times already this season. Been has challenged his squad to show more consistency, but the fact that he is still in charge of team affairs suggests that he continues to feel there is enough potential.

NEC are four points and four places better off than third-bottom VVV Venlo, who currently occupy the higher of the two relegation playoff places, but Been remains convinced that his team should be looking up rather than down. Indeed, everyone at the club in convinced that NEC are good enough to finish mid-table at least.

Unrealised potential is precisely what’s been wrong at De Goffert this season however. That’s partly due to the lack of strike power. Only Top scorer Jhonny van Beukering has just nine goals.

EREDIVISIE
Feyenoord – NEC
Sunday 2 March, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Nijhuis

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Feyenoord:
Timmer; Fer, Greene, Bahia, De Cler; Landzaat, Hofs, Van Bronckhorst (Sahin); De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins
NEC: Babos; Nalbantoglu, Olsson, Wisgerhof, El Akchaoui; Sibum, Holman, Vadocz; Lens, Van Beukering, Bobson

HOME
22/04/2007 Feyenoord - NEC 1-1
11/09/2005 Feyenoord - NEC 3-0
05/12/2004 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
17/08/2003 Feyenoord - NEC 2-1
18/08/2002 Feyenoord - NEC 2-0
AWAY
23/12/2007 NEC - Feyenoord 0-2
26/11/2006 NEC - Feyenoord 4-1
08/02/2006 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
08/05/2005 NEC - Feyenoord 2-0
28/01/2004 NEC - Feyenoord 1-2
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