VAN MARWIJK DRAWS A LINE IN THE SAND

Bert van Marwijk felt the need to arrange an extra training session on the players’ free day after the disappointing defeat at Ajax last week. He also questioned the commitment of his squad in public, in the hope of eliciting a suitable reaction on the pitch against De Graafschap Saturday. The coach was certainly more sanguine the day before the match. ‘I have the feeling my measures have been taken on board, but we’ll have to wait and see. I expect a response from my players on Saturday.’

Van Marwijk was not in the mood to chew the fat about his Amsterdam experience Friday. The coach did however repeat what he said after the game, that giving away possession within seconds of the kick-off was a bad sign to say the least. ‘This far and no farther,’ he asserted. ‘The players will have to change their mindset. We’ll have to play a different tune.’

One encouraging result of the mid-week international fixture list is that Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Tim de Cler and Denny Landzaat have all returned to De Kuip in a more positive frame of mind. The Dutch defeated Croatia comprehensively in Split on Wednesday (3-0) playing in the same system as Feyenoord. Van Marwijk felt that it showed just what the strengths of the system are. ‘I think the Dutch team played a great game. The players did their jobs very well. The lads that have returned from Oranje are making that clear to the other players.’

Of those three, Denny Landzaat is a doubt however. The midfielder returned from the Dalmatian seaboard with a sore hamstring and trained alone Friday. If Landzaat fails to recover in time he will be in good company. Tim Vincken, Theo Lucius and Ron Vlaar are all a way from returning to action, while Chun-Soo Lee has been ruled out of training for the past week with an ankle problem.

Other players who are doubts ahead of the game are Jonathan de Guzman (foot), Henk Timmer (foot), Georginio Wijnaldum (ankle), Michael Mols (knee) and Nicky Hofs (knee). Luigi Bruins and Danny Buijs have both been declared physically fit, but are not yet match fit.

THE OPPOSITION

The 1-8 defeat suffered by De Graafschap at the hands of Ajax in the first game of the season suggested that the Doetinchem-based side were in for a tough old campaign back in the top flight after promotion.

In response, Jan de Jonge rallied his charges, who won three of the next four games, including away wins at Groningen and Vitesse. Those early games also yielded draws against Twente and Utrecht, the latter away from home.

Such form has earned De Graafschap a place in mid-table. It has in turn earned the respect of the country, although that may also have lot to do with their status as a ‘proper club’, with a large fan base and regular 12,000-plus sell-outs at De Vijverberg stadium.

It will be interesting to see if De Graafschap can continue their good form in the second half of the season. Striker Berry Powel left for Groningen just before the transfer window closed. He was replaced by Diego Biseswar, who came on loan from Feyenoord, as did Jordy Buijs and Michael Jansen, by the way.

Eyes on both sides will be on those three loan signings when the sides meet Saturday evening. Feyenoord certainly won’t be expecting any favours, although most Rotterdammers would hope they wouldn’t need any.

EREDIVISIE
De Graafschap – Feyenoord
Saturday 9 February, 20:00 at De Vijverberg stadium
Referee: Kuipers

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
De Graafschap: Van Fessem; Schuurman, Fung a Wing, Keller, Fränkel; Meijer, Hese, Robbemond, Vidarsson; Schöne, Tarvajärvi
Feyenoord: Timmer (Mulder); Fer, Greene, Hofland, De Cler (Bahia); Landzaat (Sahin), De Guzman (Hofs), Van Bronckhorst; Slory, Makaay, Bruins

HOME 
04/11/2007 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0
15/08/2004 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 6-1
21/09/2002 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0
15/09/2001 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 2-0
15/04/2001 Feyenoord - De Graafschap 1-2

AWAY
04/02/2005 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 2-7
05/04/2003 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 3-4
25/04/2002 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 1-0
01/10/2000 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 2-3
16/04/2000 De Graafschap - Feyenoord 0-1

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