Feyenoord will go into the winter break atop the Eredivisie with a win at Heerenveen on Sunday. Not that Bert van Marwijk is about to make a song and dance about it. The coach brushes aside talk of ‘winter champions’, preferring to concentrate on the task at hand in Heerenveen Sunday. Mindful that it’s his side’s third game in eight days, Van Marwijk gave his key players a day off Friday.

Van Marwijk did not give the league table much thought Friday afternoon, which is not so strange. No one ever got a prize for winning a winter Eredivisie championship. And anyway, to top the table Feyenoord will have to defeat Heerenveen in Heerenveen. The Rotterdammers have 22 points from a possible 24 at home, but away from De Kuip they have four wins, one draw and three defeats. Last week’s win in Nijmegen was promising, but it didn’t wash away the memory of losses in Eindhoven, Twente and Groningen.

Van Marwijk took the decision to give his key players a day-off in the run-up to Sunday’s game. The coach felt that the team needed time to recover after taking on Sparta on Wednesday. ‘It seems to me that some players are lacking sharpness. I talked it over with the medical staff and decided to give the lads a free day. The aim is to achieve the best possible preparation for the last game before the mini winter break.’

Efforts will be made when the transfer window opens to bring in some reinforcements, confirmed Van Marwijk. ‘But it has to be a player that adds value. The club wants to do its utmost to make the team stronger. But that doesn’t mean new arrivals are guaranteed. I’d really like to have Ooijer for instance, but his club won’t let him leave. If we have to make do with a player of a lower calibre, I don’t think you should do it. Strengthening the team has to be the goal.’

Feyenoord last game at the Abe Lenstra Stadium turned into a debacle. Needing something from the encounter on the last day of the season to qualify for the European playoffs, the Rotterdammers found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-1 hammering. The start turn for the home side was Afonso Alves, who netted four times.

It is highly unlikely that the Brazilian will be ready to face Feyenoord again Sunday. Alves has a hamstring injury.

The visitors shouldn’t get too carried away however. Last season’s Eredivisie goal king is a force to be reckoned with, but Heerenveen have proven able to dispatch the opposition without him this term.

In fact, looking at the Frisians’ recent results, you could argue that Heerenveen are better off without their Brazilian. Alves was in Gertjan Verbeek’s starting line-up for the last two games, but the side managed just one goal and no points against FC Twente at home (1-2) and Roda JC away (0-1). The two previous fixtures without Alves saw Heerenveen net nine times, at home to FC Groninigen (4-2) and away to NAC Breda (5-1).

Alves remains top scorer with eleven goals from eight starts, but Gerald Sibon and Miralem Sulejmani have both shown an eye for goal this season, which means Feyenoord will have to stay focused if they are to leave Friesland with anything.

Heerenveen – Feyenoord
Sunday 30 December, 14:30 at Abe Lenstra Stadium

Vandenbussche; Jong-A-Pin, H. Drost, Dingsdag, Breuer; Poulsen, Bradley, Prager, Pranjic; Sibon, Sulejmani (Alves)
Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst; Slory, Makaay, Lee (Bruins)


29/09/2007 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 2-0
03/12/2006 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 4-3
18/09/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 5-1
01/05/2005 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 1-3
07/03/2004 Feyenoord - SC Heerenveen 2-2
29/04/2007 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 5-1
07/04/2006 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1-1
28/11/2004 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 2-2
23/08/2003 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1-0
07/12/2002 SC Heerenveen - Feyenoord 3-1
Feyenoord Business CLub