With just four preseason fixtures left on the calendar Erwin Koeman’s team against Hertha BSC Sunday will closely resemble his preferred formation. The weekend game is followed by a trip to London Wednesday for a match against Charlton Athletic and a couple of games against amateur opposition. ‘That makes them important matches,’ says the coach, ‘but it’s obvious that the game against Hertha is the most important, taking into account the full Kuip.’

Koeman has already gone on record saying his eleven against the Germans will be the team he wants to start the season with. The coach repeated that Friday, but did temper it somewhat by talking up the importance of Feyenoord’s midweek trip across the Channel too. ‘Because the team that plays on Sunday will not be my regular team without qualification. Obviously players will be in that will stay in, but I will make a few changes Wednesday. In that match we’ll be up against serious opposition too and I want to use that.’ 

The result is clear significant, but not decisive. ‘For the fans it’s obviously important, just like for the team,’ says Koeman. ‘But for me it’s also very important that we play as a team. But I want to see that team spirit again.’ 

A number of players will be missing against the Germans. Ali Boussaboun and Pascal Bosschaart have both trained with the squad this week, but for them the game has come to early. The same goes for Cory Gibbs, who underwent a knee operation in the summer and has yet to rejoin training. Christian Gyan’s knee keeps him out too, whereas Shinji Ono and Patrick Mtiliga are both in rehab in their home countries. 

Feyenoord will certainly be starting with a defensive midfielder, confirmed Koeman. ‘That’s the best thing for the organisation in midfield. We will then always have the same number of people in midfield or a man more. That breeds confidence and I hope that will get us playing easier.’ Alfred Schreuder is likely to take on the role. 

Hertha BSC qualified for the Uefa Cup last season, which was a fantastic turnaround for a club that only just staved off relegation from the Bundesliga a year earlier. The Berliners come to De Kuip with an old friend in their ranks. Ex-Feyenoorder Ellery Cairo has admitted that he is delighted to be back in Rotterdam for the game. The 26-year-old is just back from a thigh injury and he’ll be hoping he can get off the bench at some time during the afternoon. ‘This match means a lot for me,’ says Cairo. ‘I have more of a connection with Feyenoord than with any other club. I’ve spent most of my career at Feyenoord, including Varkenoord, and I always enjoyed it. My parents and family still live in Rotterdam and I still talk about the club a lot with my friends, a lot of whom are Feyenoord supporters. I could hardly believe it when I heard against this match. I’m very happy with it, that’s why being here is the most important thing.’ 

Feyenoord – Hertha BSC
Sunday 31 July, 14:30 pm at De Kuip
Referee: Blom

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