Feyenoord will also be aiming to continue their recent good run at the Gelredome. The Rotterdammers failed to win in Arnhem for a decade prior to victory in January 2006, and they made it two on the bounce last April.
That won’t be easy. Van Marwijk admitted Friday that he was impressed with Vitesse’s results this season. Coach Aad de Mos did see his team drop the baton in the cup last week, but it’s a different story in the Eredivisie, where AZ have already succumbed to the yellow and blacks. ‘We cannot underestimate any opponent,’ reiterated Van Marwijk. ‘Even though we are on the right track ourselves.’
The coach was referring to the encouraging signs shown in the squad’s recent training sessions. ‘We are further along them I had expected. The team is getting better almost by the week. Players like Van Bronckhorst, Makaay, Hofland and De Cler are having a very good influence on the talents. They allow others to perform better.’
Van Marwijk acknowledged that he was still unsure whether Chun-Soo Lee would travel to Arnhem. The coach wants to give the South Korean the time to adapt to his new surroundings, the way of playing and his team-mates. Lee is not yet match fit either.
There was more certainty about Andwélé Slory, Tim Vincken, Ron Vlaar, Dwight Tiendalli and Sherif Ekramy, who all miss the trip with injuries. Van Marwijk expressed the hope that Ekramy would rejoin the squad in one to two weeks.
With six rounds of league fixtures played, anyone who’s put a few euros on the outcome of this season’s Eredivisie matches knows that Vitesse is not an easy team to gauge. Coach Aad de Mos has guided the Arnhem outfit to fifth in the table, which would suggest that they have been fairly consistent so far. Objectively speaking that is true, as Vitesse have won four and lost two.
Looking more closely though, it’s hard to get a handle on Vitesse. Wins against Sparta and NEC may have made some experienced gamblers a small profit at short odds, but the victory over AZ was nothing short of a bolt from the blue. A visit to the Philips Stadium was always going to be a hiding to nothing, but the home loss to De Graafschap would have made someone a tidy sum.
Three days after the De Graafschap reverse, De Mos saw his side get knocked out of the cup to first division FC Eindhoven and that really was an upset. Suddenly people started talking about a crisis in Arnhem. Vitesse responded with a fine 4-2 win at FC Utrecht and all bets were off again.
It’s tempting to say that we’ll have to see which Vitesse turns up at the Gelredome Sunday. One thing we can say is that Vitesse are a good footballing side, with more quality in depth than last season. A good example is Danko Lazovic. The Serb’s departure to PSV robbed Vitesse of a lot of quality, but the Arnhemmers responded by contracting two ambitious, hard-working forwards in Santi Kolk and Harrie Gommans, rather than trying to find a one-for-one replacement.
The two frontmen reflect the new balance in Vitesse’s squad, which is no longer built around a couple of star players. De Mos wants the team to be the star. He underscored that desire by dropping Civard Sprockel for disciplinary reasons for the cup-tie against Eindhoven.
Vitesse – Feyenoord
Sunday 7 October, 12:30 at the Gelredome
Vitesse: Velthuizen; Verhaegh, Espinoza, Sprockel, Megrelishvili; Swerts, Van der Schaaf, Yakubu Due; Junker, Lorca
Feyenoord: Timmer; Lucius, Bahia, Hofland, De Cler; Sahin, Hofs, Van Bronckhorst; De Guzman, Makaay, Bruins
05/11/2006 Feyenoord - Vitesse 2-1
06/11/2005 Feyenoord - Vitesse 0-0
23/01/2005 Feyenoord - Vitesse 1-2
22/11/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 3-0
12/04/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 2-1
01/04/2007 Vitesse - Feyenoord 0-1
15/01/2006 Vitesse - Feyenoord 0-1
29/08/2004 Vitesse - Feyenoord 1-1
08/02/2004 Vitesse - Feyenoord 0-0
19/10/2002 Vitesse - Feyenoord 1-1