Feyenoord take on FC Utrecht at De Kuip Sunday looking to avenge last season’s heavy 0-3 reverse. It will not be an easy task though, as Foeke Booy’s team have already turned the Rotterdammers over this season, as well as surprising AZ and Ajax on their travels recently. That said, Erwin Koeman feel that his team have the danger pegged. ‘We have been warned again and again,’ says the Feyenoord coach, who finds himself missing four regulars going into the lunch-time meet.

Koeman has been lucky with injuries over the past few weeks, which has meant he has been able to field almost the same team in recent games, but that luck came to an end last week at Groningen when Patrick Lodewijks tore his medial knee ligament to put himself on the sidelines for up to six weeks. There was worse news to come for Feyenoord however, as Patrick Paauwe picked up a yellow card, which rules him out of Sunday’s game. Romeo Castelen also got a kick in the knee in the closing stages of the game, which ultimately led to him hobbling out of Holland’s training camp ahead of his country’s friendly with Ecuador. The striker is still doubtful. Dirk Kuyt did play in Holland’s match against Ecuador, netting the winner, but truth be told, the striker felt unwell before the Groningen game and two games in four days resulted in Kuyt taking to his bed Friday with stomach flu. Last but not least is Sebastián Pardo, who played in a friendly for Chile in midweek. Coach Koeman could do with having Pardo fit for Sunday’s game, but he’s already assuming that the Chilean will step off the plane in less than optimal shape. He’ll have to wait until Saturday morning training to find out.

The coach does at least have replacements. Maikel Aerts now gets an extended run in the first team after playing the whole of the second half last weekend. Pascal Bosschaart is likely to deputise for Paauwe, while Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ali Boussaboun are ready to take over striking duties from Kuyt and Castelen.

Despite the availability of sound stand-ins, Koeman will be disappointed he does not have his strongest team available ahead of two must-win games for Feyenoord. ‘I am aware that we have to get six points from the next two games. If PSV do too then we’ll have to be very good to prevent them from becoming champions. But I think it’s ridiculous to give up already. It is too easy and it is not in the nature of elite sports clubs.’

FC Utrecht will arrive at De Kuip in buoyant mood. ‘We have been warned. They have won at AZ and Ajax, which says enough about their qualities. We have to factor in everything, because they might drop back from the start or on the contrary push forward. They usually play strongly, although in the second half last week against Roda JC they didn’t do anything. But Sunday they will be playing Feyenoord and that usually brings the best out of players. It’s our job to deal with that.’

The visitors thumped Ajax 1-4 in Amsterdam and turned AZ over 2-3 in Alkmaar, so Feyenoord will have to be sharp Sunday. Indeed FC Utrecht have picked up most of their points away from home, although they did beat Feyenoord 3-1 on home turf earlier this season. That has prompted Erwin Koeman to label Sunday’s meet as ‘possibly the toughest home game of the season’.

Feyenoord – FC Utrecht
Sunday 5 March, 12:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Wiedemeijer

Feyenoord: Aerts; Greene, Vlaar, Bahia, Drenthe; Hofs, Bosschaart, De Guzman; Castelen (Boussaboun), Kuyt (Van Hooijdonk), Kalou.
FC Utrecht: Terol; Braafheid, Van Steensel, Broerse, Tiendalli; Somers, Caluwé, De Jong; Van den Bergh, Nelisse, Ramzi.

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
20/5/2001 Feyenoord - FC Utrecht 2-2

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

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