‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord take on world-class opposition Tuesday evening when Chelsea come to De Kuip for the last home friendly before the season starts in earnest. The supporters will certainly be looking forward to some premium entertainment as Erwin Koeman pits himself against José Mourinho. Feyenoord have already outfoxed one English team, but Sunday’s game was not much of a test for the Rotterdammers and they will be hoping that Chelsea live up to their reputation. ‘It will be an interesting game that tells me much about my team,’ confirmed Koeman. Salomon Kalou will take the applause of the Feyenoord fans before the game.
Feyenoord will not start with the same personnel as Sunday. Koeman confirmed that most of his first-choice eleven against Middlesbrough will get the nod in the up-and-coming league campaign. Not really a surprise in itself, although there is plenty of competition for places in some positions. The first-choice keeper is still a question mark. Timmer defended the goal Sunday and Lodewijks will take his position between the posts against the English champions. ‘I have thought about the keeper’s position, but I’m keeping it to myself. I’ll announce my decision after this week,’ said Koeman when asked.
Benjamin De Ceulaer was handed a start against Middlesbrough and there’s every chance that the Belgian will be given the nod again against Chelsea. Tim Vincken is also an option for Koeman. One thing that is clear is that neither is first choice at outside right. That is Romeo Castelen, who misses the game and many more to come over the next two months after picking up an ankle injury two days ago. ‘He is a step ahead of the other in his position and he is first choice,’ confirmed Koeman. At left back Royston Drenthe looks to have earned a starting place going into the season. Koeman admitted himself that the youngster enjoyed his preference. His rival Pascal Bosschaart may play some part Tuesday however and he’s sure to utilise every opportunity to change his coach’s mind.
Opponents Chelsea are perhaps not the world’s best team, but they are probably the most wealthy. Billionaire Roman Abramovich has fast-tracked the Londoners to the title twice in two years. In recent years the Russian has recruited chief executive Peter Kenyon, director of football Frank Arnesen and a whole host of superstars to fill his squad. Media favourite José Mourinho has even got them playing as a team – something Real Madrid for example have not been able to do. The Portuguese coach has led his club to back-to-back Premiership titles, although he has not as yet been able to crack the Champions League with Chelsea as he did with FC Porto.
Talented youngsters like Salomon Kalou and Jon Obi Mikel have been added to the Stamford Bridge roster, as have superstars of the calibre of Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack. Mourinho will probably add England left-back Ashley to the mix in a matter of days.
Feyenoord – Chelsea
Tuesday 8 August, 19:00 at De Kuip
Probable Feyenoord line-up: Lodewijks; Greene, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe (Bosschaart); De Guzman, Hofs (Kolkka), Lucius; De Ceulaer (Vincken), Kuyt, Huysegems.