Feyenoord entertain AZ at De Kuip Sunday in a game that the visitors may go into as slight favourites based on their recent form in the league and the UEFA Cup. AZ continue to hold onto second place in the Eredivisie, but that doesn’t stop Ruud Gullit from emphasising that Feyenoord have to take the initiative in a must-win game. ‘We are always obliged to do that at De Kuip, we owe it to our supporters.’

It’s been a difficult week for the coach what with so many key players away on international duty. Danko Lazovic didn’t return to Rotterdam until Friday morning due to an airline strike and a theft that left him without any papers. Elsewhere Cory Gibbs was left stranded in Alabama as storms grounded planes and he will be racing to reach Holland in time. ‘’Tactically there’s little you can do in weeks like these,’ admits Gullit. ‘The lads who stayed here trained hard, but you cannot practice much. You have to be careful with the internationals once they get back; they often need some care. But AZ have the same problem. Thankfully we got everyone back fit, although we have to wait on Gibbs. But Cory is a character; you can even play him without training. I don’t expect any problems there.’

AZ on the other hand could cause problems aplenty. The Alkmaar outfit are having a fantastic season and even walloped Feyenoord 4-1 on home turf earlier in the campaign. ‘But we played good football there until the red cards for Bosschaart and Song,’ opines Gullit. ‘As we also played well in the cup game against AZ, when we got two red cards. I hope in any case that we finish with 22 players this time. We will play to our own strengths and I assume that AZ will do the same. I think that team has really grown; they can play for the result. That’s actually a quality that’s only moderately appreciated in Holland. Look how PSV was viewed at the start of the season, even while they were winning everything. Of course we want to play pretty football, but the most important thing is the win. That call for pretty football just gets you a cinema audience. Real fans come to see their club win.’

Feyenoord’s coach argues for realistic football and observes that the clubs in the Eredivisie have matured on that score. ‘The tendency to play for the result is winning ground and I think that it’s a good development. Look how ADO played at Ajax recently. The top clubs are made to work harder and harder and that’s only good for Dutch football. You see it in the performances of the national team and those of AZ and PSV in Europe. The top clubs have to play faster and deal with small spaces. That makes us all better and so we have to continue to promote realistic football. Pretty football the whole time is nothing but a utopia. Everyone is impressed by Arsenal, but at the end of the day they are just a team that plays on the counter.’

Feyenoord – AZ
Sunday 3 April, 14:30 at De Kuip
Referee: Luinge

Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs (Bahia), Basto; Castelen, Hofs, Ono, Goor; Kalou, Kuyt
AZ: Timmer; Kromkamp, Mathijsen (Jaliens), Opdam, De Cler; Landzaat, Van Galen, Lindenbergh (Buskermolen); Huysegems (Nelisse), Perez, Elkhattabi (Sektioui)


11/2/2004 Feyenoord-AZ 0-3
15/12/2002 Feyenoord-AZ 6-1
10/3/2002 Feyenoord-AZ 4-1
19/8/2000 Feyenoord-AZ 2-0

26/1/2005 AZ-Feyenoord 1-3 (Amstel Cup)
31/10/2004 AZ-Feyenoord 4-1
14/9/2003 AZ-Feyenoord 2-2
15/2/2003 AZ-Feyenoord 1-4
20/10/2001 AZ-Feyenoord 1-3
4/2/2001 AZ Feyenoord 0-3

Feyenoord Business CLub