Bert van Marwijk tinkered with his formation for the first time this season in the cup on Tuesday. The coach was not forced to change his team due to injury or suspension, but decided to drop Nuri Sahin and André Bahia anyway. Theo Lucius started in midfield with Danny Buijs playing on the right side of defence. The big if ahead of the game at Excelsior is whether Van Marwijk will keep faith with the same eleven.

He was unwilling to give too much away Thursday, although he was happy to explain why he felt the time had come to try something new against the amateurs. ‘In last week’s match against PSV we stopped ourselves from playing our own game. The ball was passed back to the keeper far too often for instance. Well, you can use the keeper in your build-up play, but you shouldn’t do that unnecessarily. It sends out the wrong signal. It’s starting to become a structural problem for us.’

The additional fact that some players are not in the form they showed at the start of the season provoked Van Marwijk into mixing things up. He also feels that his side has sometimes not been aggressive enough this term. ‘We’re lacking power at times. I think we compensated for that fairly well with Lucius on Tuesday.’

Andwelé Slory for one will not be available against his former club. The striker has all but recovered from a damaged hamstring, but the medical team has recommended a couple of days’ rest. Slory is therefore expected to return to the squad on Monday.

Henk Timmer and Kevin Hofland are both doubts. Timmer is suffering from a stiff neck, following a collision in the cup against Deurne. Kevin Hofland skipped training Thursday with a foot problem. The chances of either taking any part against Excelsior will be assessed on the day of the game.

If Timmer does not play, Erwin Mulder will take his place between the sticks and Sherif Ekramy will return to the bench. The Egyptian goalkeeper has recovered from his shoulder injury but is not ready to play a full game.


Sigourney Bandjar’s injury time goof let in Goran Lovre to shoot Groningen to a 3-2 win last Saturday, a loss that sent Excelsior to the foot of the table. It wasn’t the first time the Rotterdammers have thrown it away. Ton Lokhoff’s side have simply let too many points slip out of their grasp this season.

True, expectations were not exactly sky-high at the start of the campaign. The departure of Luigi Bruins and Andwelé Slory to De Kuip left the red and blacks without their best two players. The side certainly felt the loss, losing the season’s first five fixtures before claiming a point in the sixth against Roda JC.

The draw did not signal an upswing in Excelsior’s fortunes however. A 2-1 win against Ajax was definitely a high point, but results have generally been below par.

That said, three league wins means that Excelsior have not been cut adrift. The gap to fourth-bottom NEC is just two points. With that in mind, every point is a step in the right direction for Ton Lokhoff and co.
They would unquestionably welcome one against their old friends from over the river.

Excelsior – Feyenoord
Friday 18 January, 20:30 at Woudestein Stadium
Referee: Braamhaar

: Graafland; Bandjar, Demir, Van Steensel, Pigué; Braber, Guijo-Velasco, Luijckx, Zijm; Den Ouden, Voskamp
Feyenoord: Timmer (Mulder); Buijs, Greene, Hofland (Bahia), De Cler; Lucius, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst; Lee, Makaay, Bruins

20/10/2007 Feyenoord - Excelsior 1-0
24/09/2006 Feyenoord - Excelsior 1-0
10/09/2002 Feyenoord - Excelsior 4-1
29/12/2006 Excelsior - Feyenoord 1-3
08/03/2003 Excelsior - Feyenoord 2-6
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