‘The confidence is back,’ said a satisfied Feyenoord head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst on Friday afternoon, two days ...
Feyenoord return to Eredivisie action Sunday after a successful training camp in Gran Canaria with Ruud Gullit hoping that his team can continue in the same vein. The diamond was revisited against Rosenborg to good effect and although last week’s warm-up against Excelsior produced a less impressive performance, the system appears ripe for more extensive field trials. The influx of personnel during the winter break has also given Gullit new confidence in the diamond. ‘I’m glad the new players give me some more options. There is certainly a chance that I’ll persist.’
Gullit tested out the diamond in preseason, only to abandon the concept
after some iffy displays. But the recent arrival Edwin de Graaf has put
the midfield system back at the top of the agenda, as the newcomer is
the perfect balance on the right to Bart Goor on the left. Indeed, the
addition early in the week of Nicky Hofs means the coach even has an
alternative to De Graaf on the right, although Hofs is also comfortable
playing just behind the strikers, where Kuyt has played during the
recent friendlies. Gullit is still unconvinced whether that’s the best
position for his top scorer, however. ‘Against Rosenborg it worked
great, but against Excelsior it was less good. It doesn’t always help
our play to put him there, but I know he can do it.’
Hofs has done well in training this week and Gullit may give him his
Feyenoord debut against his old club in that position just behind the
strikers. That will see Kuyt moving back alongside Kalou and Lazovic
reverting to the bench.
The coach has options in defence where Ivan Bandalovski, Alexander
Östlund and Cory Gibbs have all come in during the winter break.
Östlund is expected to go straight into the starting line-up against
Vitesse. The Swede signed as late as Tuesday, but he’s made the right
impression from the first hour. ‘He can play on Sunday,’ confirmed
Gullit. ‘He’s adapted fast in any event.’
With Bosschaart likely to fill the other full back position, the only
other question mark in the rearguard is who’ll partner up with Karim
Saidi in the centre of defence. Gullit will delay his decision till the
last minute, with new face Gibbs in with a shout of a start.
Alternatively, Patrick Paauwe may be called upon if his groin strain
allows. Glenn Loovens and Gianni Zuiverloon are the other candidates.
HOLLAND CASINO EREDIVISIE
Sunday 23 January
Feyenoord: Babos; Östlund, Saidi, Gibbs (Paauwe), Bosschaart; De Graaf,
Pardo, Hofs, Goor (Magrão); Kuyt, Kalou.
Vitesse: Wapenaar; Vreven, Van den Berg, Dingsdag, Jansen; Rankovic
(Knopper), Janssen, Yakubu, Hersi; Gluscevic, Amoah.
LAST TEN MEETINGS
17/12/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 1-0 (AC)
22/11/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 3-0
12/4/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 2-1
5/3/2003 Feyenoord - Vitesse 3-1 (AC)
17/11/2001 Feyenoord - Vitesse 3-2
29/8/2004 Vitesse - Feyenoord 1-1
8/2/2004 Vitesse - Feyenoord 0-0
19/10/2002 Vitesse - Feyenoord 1-1
17/2/2002 Vitesse - Feyenoord 2-1
4/3/2001 Vitesse - Feyenoord 0-0