The arrival of Denny Landzaat at De Kuip has increased Bert van Marwijk’s options in midfield. The coach was not able to exploit it to the full against FC Groningen because of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s suspension. But the club skipper is available again Wednesday against AZ, which means that the two Dutch internationals may partner up in the middle of the park.

The two players know each other from Dutch international duty, but they are not used to playing alongside each other. Landzaat and Van Bronckhorst started to forge what is hoped will be a very productive partnership Tuesday in training. Van Marwijk for one was satisfied with what he saw. ‘I liked how they trained today,’ said the coach. ‘They were both very hungry, they took control, watched and talked a lot.’

The coach feels that the two can also be compared with each other to a degree. Not just in terms of appearance, laughed Van Marwijk. Their game is similar too. ‘Both of them are dynamic players with a good foot, who can play well without the ball too. They fight from the front and they are intelligent players. But they will have to get used to each other.’

Both are available for selection against Feyenoord, but even with that in mind and the fact that AZ come to De Kuip on the back of three straight defeats, Van Marwijk feels that his side will have to be fully concentrated on the task in hand Wednesday. ‘AZ have a good, broad squad with a lot of options. After their recent results they cannot lose, if I can put it that way.’

Van Marwijk is hoping his own side are able to play with more confidence than they have in the last two games. Against FC Twente the coach noticed that his defenders were sometimes unsure about joining the play, which caused some uncertainty in the team. Against FC Groningen Feyenoord started shakily, but they came ‘back into the game’ in the second half. Van Marwijk feels that is a source of confidence going into the next couple of matches.

Feyenoord will face AZ without Luigi Bruins or Danny Buijs, who have hamstring and groin problems. Michael Mols is a doubt, after he was kicked in the knee late in the Groningen game. The coach is able to welcome back Kevin Hofland however. The defender is fit again after a foot injury.

It’s hard to say what’s up with AZ this season. The team that went into the last day of the 2006-07 season needing a win to take the title find themselves in eleventh place this term with more than half the games played. AZ seem to be having a long-term dip in form, despite coach Louis van Gaal’s protestations that that is not the case.

Many players are performing under par, the strikers are not scoring as often as was hoped and the loss of Shota Arveladze appears to have robbed the team of a leader. AZ came off the mini winter break with some catching up to do, but have been left reeling after three successive defeats against Heerenveen, NAC Breda and Willem II.

On the face of it AZ look to be experiencing something of what Feyenoord had to go through last season. The Rotterdammers on the other hand seem to have learned something from last season’s AZ. Feyenoord are playing more fluently, they have a free-scoring striker and a number of senior players to drive the team on.

Strikingly, AZ have failed to win a single time at De Kuip since it has been mentioned in the same breath as the ‘top three’. Feyenoord have won the past three encounters at De Kuip, scoring nine goals in the process.

Feyenoord – AZ
Wednesday 29 January, 20:45 at De Kuip

Timmer; Lucius, Greene, Hofland, De Cler; Landzaat, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst; Slory, Makaay, Hofs
AZ: Waterman; Koenders, Donk, Mendes da Silva, Pocognoli; De Zeeuw, Cziommer, Vormer, Medunjanin; Dembélé, Pellè

18/11/2006 Feyenoord - AZ 3-2
26/12/2005 Feyenoord - AZ 2-0
03/04/2005 Feyenoord - AZ 4-2
11/02/2004 Feyenoord - AZ 0-3
15/12/2002 Feyenoord - AZ 6-1
11/03/2007 AZ - Feyenoord 0-0
19/03/2006 AZ - Feyenoord 1-0
31/10/2004 AZ - Feyenoord 4-1
14/09/2003 AZ - Feyenoord 2-2
15/02/2003 AZ - Feyenoord 1-4
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