As a result, the squad to face Groningen looks a little different from the one that fought out a 2-2 draw with Ajax two weeks ago, perhaps Feyenoord’s best ninety minutes of the season. Van Marwijk is fortunate that Andwelé Slory has had two weeks to work on his fitness on the training pitch and is now available for selection.
‘I realise there may come a time this season when I have to abandon the system due to personnel problems,’ admitted Van Marwijk Friday. At the same, he also realised that the current situation is fairly exceptional. ‘If I count Nicky Hofs as a striker, I come to five strikers that are not available. It was nice to be able to train so well for two weeks, but I’d have rather trained a little less and had the injured players back.’
It remains to be seen whether the weakened squad will be able to reproduce the form it showed against Ajax two weeks ago. FC Groningen were given the steamroller treatment earlier this season at De Kuip in the cup, but Van Marwijk does not anticipate an easy afternoon at Euroborg. ‘I expect an aggressive Groningen. They have to put on a display. But I feel we’ve put in a lot of good away performances already this season, although PSV and FC Twente changed that picture.’
Theo Lucius and Danny Buijs are very likely to be in the squad for the game. Both have been carrying light injuries this week. Dwight Tiendalli resumed squad training this week, but he’ll try to improve his match fitness in the reserves before rejoining the big boys.
When the sun shines FC Groningen is a match for any team on their day, but as soon as snow starts falling the northerners seem to skid off course. Last year’s November brought heavy defeats at FC Twente (1-7) and at home to ADO Den Haag (2-5) and FC Utrecht (0-3).
This season does not appear to be much different. A fine win against FC Twente (1-0) and a good draw against AZ (2-2) in October have been followed by two 1-5 reverses against NEC – not exactly the in-form team in the Eredivisie – and Roda JC. Sandwiched between that was a 1-3 reverse at De Kuip in the cup.
Coach Ron Jans, five years at the club this month, certainly has every cause for concern. ‘Far too many players must improve,’ said Jans after the defeat to Roda JC two week’s ago. ‘The heads went down when it was still 0-0.’
Groningen will be all out to stop the rot and halt their slide down the Eredivisie by at least avoiding defeat at Euroborg Sunday. The club is basically no worse off than it was this time last year, when it ended up in eighth place at season’s close and ultimately secured European football. A similar performance must be feasible this time round too, bearing in mind the squad Jans can choose from.
Groningen’s recent league record against Feyenoord should certainly give the home side confidence, despite that unconvincing cup display at De Kuip earlier this season.
FC Groningen – Feyenoord
Sunday 25 November, 14:30 at the Euroborg
FC Groningen: Van Loo; Silva, Sankoh, Svejdik, Stenman; Meerdink, Lovre (Fledderus), Lindgren, Levchenko; Berg, Nevland
Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Hofland, Bahia, De Cler; Sahin, De Guzman, Van Bronckhorst; Buijs (Wijnaldum), Makaay, Slory
08/04/2007 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 0-4
16/10/2005 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
21/11/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
02/05/2004 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 1-2
23/02/2003 Feyenoord - FC Groningen 4-1
20/08/2006 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-0
26/02/2006 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 1-1
24/04/2005 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2
02/11/2003 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 3-3
03/11/2002 FC Groningen - Feyenoord 0-2