Only a win will be good enough when Feyenoord take on top-of-the-table PSV at De Kuip Sunday lunchtime. That would at least reduce the gap between the two clubs to eight points, giving the Rotterdammers a boost ahead of the winter break. Importantly, it could also have completely the opposite effect on the opposition. After a big defeat in Europe during the week the Eindhoven outfit will not be looking to lose to their Eredivisie rivals. ‘We can strike a blow against them,’ declares Ruud Gullit.

PSV suffered a 1-4 defeat at the hands of Panathinaikos in the midweek Champions League fixture between the clubs, something that could work either way. ‘Of course they were already through. If they had lost 1-0 it wouldn’t have been a problem, but 4-1 has given them a ‘smack’. Losing by a score like that never gives you a good feeling.’

The coach may feel that the league leaders are not as strong as they were early in the season. ‘I am always positive and I hope so. A win will be a blow to PSV after the smack in Greece. And that will have an effect in the winter break. They wouldn’t go into the break with a good feeling, I know that from experience.’

It is the first time Gullit has faced PSV as a coach, a club he also represented in his illustrious playing career. ‘I had a great time at PSV, but I always felt closer to Feyenoord’, declares Gullit. ‘The current PSV squad has more breadth than ours. They are extremely solid and a little more refined than we are. They are a strong team that we must not lose to. Because that would make it very tough to play a significant role in the battle for the championship.’

Last week’s only absentee, Chong-Gug Song, is now back in the thick of it. That all means that Gullit has an embarrassment of riches. The Feyenoord coach will have been delighted to have a full squad at his disposal for Friday training.

Twenty-four hours earlier the squad had trained behind closed doors inside the stadium, rather than outside where everyone is free to watch. ‘It can be nice now and again to try something out. You can do that on the training pitch too, but I felt this was the right time. How can you try things out without it being public knowledge a day later? This allowed me to do things without people drawing any conclusions.’

Besides dead-ball situations, Gullit will surely have looked at a few midfield scenarios. Whatever he decides to do against PSV, he’s sure not to post Hossam Ghaly at right back, as was the case against NEC last week. ‘We don’t need to do that more often,’ confirmed the coach. That means that regular right backs Song or Gyan are likely to get the nod, with Bosschaart, Ono and Ghaly fighting it out for the two central midpark berths. An outside bet for a start is Bruno Basto, who put in a good performance for the reserves last Monday.

Holland Casino Eredivisie
Sunday 12 December
12:30 pm
De Kuip


Feyenoord: Lodewijks; Gyan, Saidi, Paauwe, Mtiliga (Basto); Castelen, Ono, Ghaly (Bosschaart), Goor; Kuyt, Kalou.

PSV: Gomes; Ooijer, Alex, Bouma, Lee; Van Bommel, Cocu, Vogel; Park, Farfán, Beasley (Sibon)

De Kuip
21/9/2003 Feyenoord - PSV 1-3
18/5/2003 Feyenoord - PSV 3-1
21/3/2002 Feyenoord - PSV 1-1 (UEFA Cup)
16/12/2001 Feyenoord - PSV 0-0
25/2/2001 Feyenoord - PSV 1-2

Philips Stadium, Eindhoven
14/3/2004 PSV - Feyenoord 0-1
17/11/2002 PSV - Feyenoord 1-2
14/4/2002 PSV - Feyenoord 2-0
14/3/2002 PSV - Feyenoord 1-1 (UEFA Cup)
30/1/2002 PSV - Feyenoord 1-1 (Amstel Cup)

Feyenoord Business CLub