The gap between the clubs is six points going into the match and an in-form Roda JC is certainly capable of pulling off a surprise. Raymond Atteveld’s side are on a seven-match unbeaten run and have not conceded in 283 minutes of league action. Koeman feels his side have a good chance of extended their own unbeaten home record to ten matches though, especially after Roda JC’s quarterfinal exit to RKC Waalwijk earlier this week. ‘Roda JC are a team that likes to play good football. Their positional play against RKC was a lot better than their opponents’; it was just that the defenders made a shocking mistake to go one down. They have been giving a lot of space away at the back in recent weeks.’
Atteveld has adopted a more offensive game plan than predecessor Huub Stevens. ‘In Ramzi, Oper and Agustien they have three players who can make a goal out of nothing,’ says Koeman. Roda JC regularly play with three defenders, ‘but we play with three strikers, so I expect them to start with four at the back against us,’ adds the Feyenoord coach.
Koeman will have to do without Jacob Lensky after the Canadian was hit with a serious bout of cramp in his calf while playing for the reserves last week. Alfred Schreuder is another one who is almost certain to miss the match. He’s still recovering from a groin problem. Theo Lucius and Joonas Kolkka are also doubts, with hamstring and foot injuries respectively, while Henk Timmer may also be unavailable for personal reasons. Koeman expects to have more information on all five on Saturday.
Koeman appears to be undecided at this stage. ‘I can make the choices myself, but the players I want to name have to be fit. I cannot mix things up so much either, because if I take someone from one position I’ll have to bring someone else in with fewer qualities to replace him.’
RODA JC BACK IN THE EURO HUNT
It’s been five years since Roda JC last took part in the UEFA Cup. The club’s best showing was in 2002, when AC Milan were beaten by a goal to nil at San Siro. The Italians had won by the same score in Holland, so the tie went to penalties and Roda JC were eliminated. Feyenoord went on to win the trophy that year.
There was no inkling at the time that it would be the club’s last forage into Europe for half a decade. Coach Wiljan Vloet’s goal at the start of every season was European qualification, but he perennially failed. Huub Stevens set the same target, but he too fell short in his first seasons. An Intertoto Cup campaign proved fruitless, as Roda JC were dumped before the season proper got underway.
The time seems to have turned at last this year. The mid-season departure of Huub Stevens to crisis club Hamburger SV was hard to stomach, but the results have not dried up as former assistant Raymond Atteveld has kept things on track. Stevens’ mini-run of three league matches without defeat has been extended to seven under the new man.
That rich vein of form has helped Roda JC move into seventh place in the Eredivisie, which would gave the Limburg outfit a place in the Uefa Cup playoffs at the end of the campaign. As Feyenoord know only too well of course, fifth place earns you a spot in the Champions League playoffs, which is a different kettle of fish all together. Only Ajax have managed to beat Feyenoord at De Kuip this season, but if Roda JC emulate the Amsterdammers it will leave them just three points behind Erwin Koeman’s side with a better goal difference.
That makes the game an archetypal six-pointer. But to come away with all the spoils, Roda JC are obviously going to have to score and that’s where they’ve been having difficulties this season. 31 goals in 26 matches – 20 fewer than Feyenoord – tells its own story. Andres Oper (8) and Adil Rami (7) are the club’s only regular scorers. That said, the lack of strike power is offset by a strong defensive unit that has conceded 20 fewer than their Rotterdam opponents.
Feyenoord – Roda JC
Sunday 4 March 2007, 14.30 at De Kuip
Referee: Van Sichem
Feyenoord: Ekramy (Timmer); Greene, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe; Buijs, Lucius (Derijck), De Guzman; Castelen, Charisteas, Huysegems
Roda JC: Castro; Kah, De Fauw, Lachambre, De Jong; Sibum, Agustien, Meeuwis; Oper, Van Tornhout, Ramzi
LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
22/01/2006 Feyenoord - Roda JC 0-0
13/03/2005 Feyenoord - Roda JC 4-1
28/03/2004 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-0
29/05/2003 Feyenoord - Roda JC 3-1
03/02/2002 Feyenoord - Roda JC 5-0
PARKSTAD LIMBURG STADIUM
29/10/2006 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-2
20/11/2005 Roda JC - Feyenoord 2-3
17/10/2004 Roda JC - Feyenoord 0-2
19/10/2003 Roda JC - Feyenoord 1-1
24/08/2002 Roda JC - Feyenoord 2-2