Feyenoord travel to FC Utrecht Sunday knowing there are easier places to go after a midweek round trip to Lisbon. The home side have crept up to within three points of the Rotterdammers and can boast a 3-0 smash-and-grab at De Kuip earlier in the season. What’s more, after back-to-back seven-goal wins Feyenoord found things tough in Portugal, although Ruud Gullit doesn’t think that’s necessarily bad preparation. ‘It was good, because I expect FC Utrecht to make things very difficult for us.’

The big issue ahead of the game remains: who will be the last line of
defence. Feyenoord coach was happy to shed some light on his decision
to name Patrick Lodewijks ahead of Gábor Babos for the midweek trip to
the Iberian Peninsula. A decision Gullit didn’t take lightly, he
confirms. ‘I think Gábor’s is a wonderful guy, a very good keeper. But
based on what I saw in the matches and in training throughout the first
six months I arrived at this decision. I’m paid to make this type of
call, however difficult and unpleasant it may be. It’s not one that
came out of nothing, because we talked about it before Willem II. At
Feyenoord a keeper has to win matches and that is very difficult. You
are not evaluated on the four saves you make. No, you have to make that
one save. By the way, I think it’s only normal that Gábor doesn’t
agree. He’s not on a road to nowhere either. At Ajax third keeper Vonk
is between the posts every week now too. You never know how things will
develop. There may be injuries, but he has a huge part to play in that
himself. He has to be ready if I call on him. But at the moment Patrick
is the first choice.’

The keeper’s position has been the main discussion point, but there are
question marks at the other end of the pitch too. Salomon Kalou has
started the last two matches on the bench after recovering from injury
to find that Danko Lazovic had earned his chance. Yet the roles were
reversed in the second half in Lisbon, as the Ivorian replaced the
Serb. All things being equal though, Ruud Gullit is likely to give
Lazovic a longer run in the team. The coach has certainly expressed his
satisfaction with his Balkan striker. ‘Danko is doing well even when he
doesn’t have the ball. But I’m happy I have all those strikers, because
it’s a luxury.’

There has been good news about Shinji Ono, who appears to be close to a
starting place, but Sunday will come too soon for the midfielder. ‘He
is gradually getting back,’ admitted Gullit. ‘And I have Bosschaart and
Bahia available again and that’s obviously nothing but good.’

The news is not as good when it comes to Christian Gyan, Hossam Ghaly
(both knees), Patrick Mtiliga (groin) and Alexander Östlund (flu), who
are all ruled out. Gianni Zuiverloon is expected to step in for the
Swede, which he did against Sporting to great effect.

FC Utrecht – Feyenoord
12.30 pm, Sunday 20 February at Nieuw Galgenwaard
Referee: Jol

Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Zuiverloon, Saidi, Gibbs, Basto; Castelen,
Paauwe, Hofs, Goor; Kuyt, Lazovic.

FC Utrecht: Terol; Cornelisse, Schut, Di Tommaso, Braafheid; Kruys,
Tanghe (Somers), Broerse; Douglas, Mols (Van de Haar), Van den Bergh


Nieuw Galgenwaard
18/4/2004 FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 0-3
4/5/2003 FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 1-2
27/1/2002 FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 2-2
29/10/2000 FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 1-1
19/12/1999 FC Utrecht-Feyenoord 3-4

De Kuip
19/9/2004 Feyenoord-FC Utrecht 0-3
25/1/2004 Feyenoord-FC Utrecht 3-2
1/6/2003 Feyenoord-FC Utrecht 1-4 (Amstel Cup Final, formally an away
1/12/2002 Feyenoord-FC Utrecht 2-1
28/10/2001 Feyenoord-FC Utrecht 4-0

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