Feyenoord made it three wins in a three matches with a win against FC Emmen on Sunday, leaving head coach Giovanni van Bron...
Feyenoord appear to have regained a bit of form in recent matches, after a win and a draw in the last two away games, but another three points will be essential in Doetinchem Friday if the prevailing cautious optimism is to be justified. De Graafschap are involved in a relegation dog fight, so it will take some hard work, but star turns Shinji Ono, Leonardo and Patrick Paauwe have all returned to the squad this week, while Nicky Hofs is back after serving a one–game ban.
The painful De Kuip loss to Vitesse has been consigned to the memory hole and the word ‘optimism’ is being whispered once again around Rotterdam South. Not without reason, because the smash-and-grab at the hands of the Arnhem side has been followed by a cup win in Alkmaar and a tough-fought goalless draw in Enschede. With the attractive Uefa Cup tie with Sporting Lisbon on the horizon the players are finally starting to believe they can make something of the season.
The return of Shinji Ono has boosted confidence too. The midfielder hasn’t made a start this year, after going under the knife in his homeland, but a successful week in training has fast-tracked Ono for a return to the team. He should start on the bench against De Graafschap, but you never know. ‘Shinji brings an extra something,’ admitted Gullit.
Another player returned to training this week after an even longer layoff. Leonardo hasn’t played a game in 15 months, but he could find himself on the pitch at some point Friday. It would be an emotional return for the Brazilian.
Nicky Hofs is available again after a one-match suspension. He looks good for a starting place. Gullit dropped a relatively big hint to that effect: ‘We’ll continue in the same way as we did against Twente, but the team will not be completely the same. Hofs is back of course.’ Gullit has been experimenting with his midfield options this week, so we’ll have to wait and see precisely who lines up across the middle. Patrick Paauwe may make his first start of the year in midfield, with Gibbs and Saidi preferred in central defence. That could cost Hossam Ghaly or Sebastián Pardo a start; it will depend on where Hofs lines up. If Hofs is given a job on the right, Pardo will take up the position behind the strikers, but if Castelen gets the nod on the right, Hofs will play behind the strikers.
HOLLAND CASINO EREDIVISIE
De Graafschap - Feyenoord
8 pm, Friday 4 February at De Vijverberg
De Graafschap: Van Fessem; Bot, Kalezic, Van der Kruis, De Graef; Sousa, Vandenbroeck, Bus (Van Leerdam), Robbemond; Van Beukering, Magno
Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs, Basto (Bosschaart); Castelen (Hofs), Paauwe, Hofs (Pardo), Goor; Kuyt, Lazovic
LAST TEN MEETINGS
5-4-2003 De Graafschap-Feyenoord 3-4
24-4-2002 De Graafschap-Feyenoord 1-0
1-11-2000 De Graafschap-Feyenoord 2-3
16-4-2000 De Graafschap-Feyenoord 0-1
7-3-1999 De Graafschap-Feyenoord 3-4
15-08-2004 Feyenoord-De Graafschap 6-1
21-09-2002 Feyenoord-De Graafschap 2-0
15-09-2001 Feyenoord-De Graafschap 2-0
14-04-2001 Feyenoord-De Graafschap 1-2
16-12-1999 Feyenoord-De Graafschap 0-0