Feyenoord go a-hunting for another three Eredivise points Saturday evening in the season’s opening away fixture at Heerenveen’s Abe Lenstra stadium. The new formation showed the requisite ‘grit and determination’ in last week’s win over NEC, but more of the same will have to be top of the agenda in Friesland if the Rotterdammers are to double their points total. ‘We aren’t ready by a long chalk, but the victory over NEC keeps us on course.’

‘There’s no balance in the team yet,’ observed coach Bert van Marwijk at the regular Friday afternoon media convocation. He’ll be hoping that Elton John’s old hit ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ inspires his players to maximum effort in the scrap for points, because ‘The only way to compensate for that is to work very hard and the lads did just that against NEC.’ Van Marwijk admitted that the opening day victory was a big boost to his squad. He was certainly satisfied with what his defence showed against NEC (‘They gave little away’), although further up the field the coach needs to see more from his players. ‘We have four strikers that can make the difference at any moment. They have to fulfil their roles better, like Sebastián Pardo, for example, when he comes on. He is always ready to receive the ball. Robin van Persie has to control things better. He has to make more of Lazovic’s natural inclination to veer off to the left, which creates more room for him to cut inside. That went well one time at training today and I interrupted the game immediately to point that up to him. If they start understanding each other better they will become more unpredictable.’ Mention unpredictable to Van Marwijk and he’ll usually cite Thomas Buffel, whose role in the scheme of things is becoming more important by the game. The Belgian pulled out a most valuable player performance in a low countries head-to-head Wednesday when the Dutch escaped from Brussels with a draw. ‘He kept pressing Cocu, which threw the Dutch team’s build-up into total disarray. Thomas is always able choose the right moment and he’s also looking increasingly mature. Only the conclusion – the final pass or the shot – isn’t always good. He shouldn’t try to do everything.’ There’s little reason for the coach to tinker with his formation after last week’s three points and he’s likely to start with the same eleven that ran out against NEC. Shinji Ono would appear to be the only sidelined Feyenoorder with a claim on a starting position, but the Japanese will have to work on his match fitness before that happens. ‘Then someone will have to go, because you’re not allowed to field twelve men,’ joked Van Marwijk. ‘Who that is can change from game to game. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a midfielder, because Shinji can play further up the pitch. We’ll see.’ SC HEERENVEEN-FEYENOORD Abe Lenstra Stadium, Heerenveen Saturday 23 August, 7.30 pm Referee: Ben Haverkort Expected elevens FEYENOORD Zoetebier; Song, Van den Berg, Paauwe, De Nooijer; Van Wonderen, Schreuder; Kuyt, Lazovic, Buffel, Van Persie Unavailable: Gyan (stomach) Ono, Kalou, Jean, Leonardo, Van Haaren, Collen (all lacking match fitness) HEERENVEEN Vonk; Seip, Hansson, Radomski, Edman: Väyrynen, Knopper, De Lange, Selakovic; Sibon, Correia Unavailable: Klompe (groin) Five-year form guide HOME: 2/03/2003 Feyenoord – Heerenveen 5 - 0 28/04/2002 Feyenoord - Heerenveen 3 - 2 21/10/2000 Feyenoord - Heerenveen 2 - 0 29/08/1999 Feyenoord - Heerenveen 3 - 1 28/02/1999 Feyenoord - Heerenveen 2 - 1 AWAY: 7/12/2002 Heerenveen - Feyenoord 3 - 1 01/12/2001 Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1 - 0 14/03/2001 Heerenveen – Feyenoord 4 - 3 31/01/2001 Heerenveen - Feyenoord 1 - 0 05/03/2000 Heerenveen - Feyenoord 3 – 0
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