Erwin Koeman’s squad is in confident mood, bearing in mind the recent run of results that includes seven wins in the last eight league games. The midweek defeat of Wisla will have given them an extra boost too.
There is another reason for believing that Feyenoord have every chance of taking all the spoils though. Most sides are leave Utrecht with nothing but bad memories, but history shows that the Galgenwaard stadium it’s something of a happy hunting ground for the Rotterdammers. Last season’s 3-0 win was the fourth in five years and the eighth in a decade.
One change at least is expected from the team that slew Wisla Wednesday, Royston Drenthe returns from suspension. What with Ron Vlaar’s successful comeback against the Poles, there’s every chance that André Bahia will be warming his rear on the bench in Utrecht. If he does he may or may not be joined by Sherif Ekramy. The keeper has recovered from a shoulder injury, but he may be given a run out in the reserves on Monday before coming back into the full squad. If he does, young Erwin Mulder will continue his run on the subs’ bench.
Bearing in mind their opponents’ choppy start to the season it’s difficult to know which FC Utrecht Feyenoord will be facing Sunday. Foeke Booy has seem his team fold to PSV (0-5) and AZ (1-5) and lose an additional six starts less spectacularly, including matches against NAC, Vitesse, NEC and Heracles, when a draw would have been the least that FC Utrecht could have expected. Yet the recent 3-0 win against FC Groningen will have given Erwin Koeman plenty to think about. The same goes for the fine home victories against Heerenveen and Roda JC.
FC Utrecht will take confidence from the fact that the only home defeat of this campaign was way back on 1 October, when Ajax took all three points with a 2-3 win. FC Utrecht have reacted to that loss by putting in a series of four home matches without conceding a goal.
Three points on Sunday will be a big boost in the club’s attempt to get their season back on track. The Utrecht outfit ended sixth last season and targeted a top-five finish this term, which would give them a berth in the playoffs for the various European tickets. That should be no tall order looking at the players available to coach Booy. The squad is pretty much the one from last season. Dave van den Bergh, Adil Ramzi and Dwight Tiendalli have moved on, but they’ve been replaced by Gregoor van Dijk, Cedric van der Gun and Michel Vorm.
That said, the hosts have some headaches ahead of the game, with Edson Braafheid (ankle) and Francis Dickoh (stomach) both doubtful. Van der Gun on the other hand is definitely missing after contracting a serious knee injury that is expected to keep him out of contention for two months at least. Booy does have Tom Caluwé available again – he returns from illness, while Robin Nelisse has shaken off a groin problem.
FC Utrecht – Feyenoord
Sunday 17 December, 12:30 at Galgenwaard Stadium
Timmer; Greene, Lucius, Vlaar, Drenthe; Buijs, Hofs, De Guzman; Kolkka, Charisteas, Huysegems
Vorm; Cornelisse, Dickoh, Keller, Braafheid; Somers, Van Dijk, Kruys, Kopteff; Nelisse, Fortuné
LAST TEN LEAGUE MEETINGS
2/10/2005 FC Utrecht - Feyenoord 3-1
20/2/2005 FC Utrecht - Feyenoord 0-2
18/4/2004 FC Utrecht - Feyenoord 0-3
4/5/2003 FC Utrecht - Feyenoord 1-2
27/1/2002 FC Utrecht - Feyenoord 2-2
5/3/2006 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 3-0
19/9/2004 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 0-3
25/1/2004 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 3-2
1/12/2002 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 2-1
28/10/2001 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 4-0