It’s back to bed and butter as the Eredivisie returns on Sunday. Feyenoord travel to Waalwijk and Erwin Koeman will be hoping his squad still know each other after eleven or twelve days on the road for some. The Rotterdammers look like starting against RKC with Philippe Léonard for the first time, after the Belgian clocked up some pitch time for his country midweek. Angelos Charisteas also appears a good bet to start after the Greek put in a hard day’s work, scoring a penalty in his county’s win in Bosnia. ‘If he’s fit, he’ll playing,’ confirmed Koeman.

The Maassiders’ coach was satisfied with the pitch time Léonard got for his nation in midweek, which came as a bit of surprise, considering the Belgian has been denied his Feyenoord debut since joining the club because Koeman feels the defender lacks match fitness. ‘It should really be the other way round,’ admitted Koeman, ‘but that’s how it was. He’s fit now and he was able to train with a full squad in Belgium. There were seven players here, because so many internationals were absent. He was able to build up some rhythm and get so good training in. I was happy with that.’

There was certainly little in the way of good preparation for Feyenoord going into the game. A number of players returned from Euro duty as late as Friday and three of them – Greece’s Charisteas, Belgium’s Léonard and Finland’s Kolkka – trained on their own after their exertions of Wednesday. ‘Some tough weeks are coming up when we’ll need everyone. I would seem unnecessary to me for those lads to train full out so soon. I’ll looking further than just Sunday.’

Feyenoord rounded off a tough schedule a week and a half ago against NAC, with a win that eased the Rotterdammers back into the top half of the league, to go alongside advancements to the next round of both the Dutch cup and its Uefa equivalent. Koeman will be hoping coming through those challenges bolstered his players’ confidence, but with so many of them beyond his gaze since then, he’s had to wait to see if that’s the case. ‘I lost a lot of lads for almost two weeks. The lads who were here looked pretty relaxed. But that may be because they had a free weekend coming up. That must have been it …’

RKC Waalwijk have secured top-half finishes every season since 2001 until last term’s twelfth place. But that could hardly be called bad. Especially given the limited support and the just as limited financial resources. This year though, the club’s management have targeted European football after the installation of a new lighting system at Mandemakers Stadium, which means the Brabant-based outfit will be able to host Europe’s best at their own stadium.

But it’s not hard to find examples of clubs that are not living up to expectations at the moment and there is certainly one in Waalwijk right now. Five points from six matches is a meagre return and an average of a goal a game means that RKC are not exactly making up for a drought of points with a flood of goals. Although there have been goals whenever RKC have played this season – sixteen conceded tells it’s own story. Coach Adrie Koster clearly has a job on his hands up front and at the back. It all started with a 0-5 thumping from Ajax. After a miserable draw against Excelsior, there was another 0-5 reverse against FC Utrecht. A 1-0 win against ADO was welcome and a 1-1 draw at FC Groningen hard fought, but RKC got back to losing ways against FC Twente before the international break kicked in, this time going down by the odd goal in seven.

Adrie Koster is sure to guide his side to safer waters as the season progresses however, bearing in mind the quality in his squad. Martijn Reuser has proven quality but he has yet to get his name on the score sheet in the league while tried and tested goal-getter Ricky van den Bergh has been sidelined with a hip injury. Tim Janssen on the other hand is one of the brighter lights in Waalwijk at the moment. The youth international has grabbed four goals already, sharing second place in the Eredivisie top-scorers chart behind Vitesse’s former Feyenoord striker Danko Lazovic. 

RKC Waalwijk-Feyenoord
Sunday 15 October, 14:30 at Mandemakers Stadium
Referee: Van Sichem

RKC Waalwijk:
Van Dijk; Koenders, Bakens, Keller, Van Haaren; Mulder, Vicelich, Berger; Ikedia (Van den Bergh), Janssen, Reuser.
Feyenoord: Timmer; Buijs, Greene, Saidi, Léonard (Drenthe); Lucius, Hofs, Pardo, De Guzman; Boussaboun, Charisteas.

12/3/2006 Feyenoord - RKC Waalwijk 1-1
24/10/2004 Feyenoord - RKC Waalwijk 4-0
21/3/2004 Feyenoord - RKC Waalwijk 1-0
11/5/2003 Feyenoord - RKC Waalwijk 2-1
31/3/2002 Feyenoord - RKC Waalwijk 1-1

23/10/2005 RKC Waalwijk - Feyenoord 2-1
19/3/2005 RKC Waalwijk - Feyenoord 2-4
21/12/2003 RKC Waalwijk - Feyenoord 0-0
23/11/2002 RKC Waalwijk - Feyenoord 1-0
28/11/2001 RKC Waalwijk - Feyenoord 2-3

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