Bert van Marwijk doesn’t expect to play his captain on Wednesday evening. “Paul will have to decide for himself whether he wants to play or not, but I’m not counting on him.” The question is who is going to take the midfielder’s place. Van Marwijk would most like to leave together the duo that was so effective in Twente, Song and Emerton, but as usual Van Marwijk is tight-lipped. “There are really only two options – Kees van Wonderen could play in the middle, but that would mean moving the whole team around, something I’d rather not do. You’ll have to guess the other option,” the coach adds with a wry smile.
Bret Emerton would be the most logical solution for the vacated position. The Australian’s right back position could then be filled by Chris Gyan, allowing Korean Song to remain in the middle of the field. A less obvious construction would be to move Thomas Buffel back a row. In that case, Kalou would take the position of the Belgian, and Song and Everton would take the right. Plenty of ideas, but Van Marwijk will not be drawn out of his cage. “It’s not that hard, and I’ve already told you enough.”
Van Marwijk does have a comment about the Italians in the first group game in the Champions’ League. “There’s no doubt we’re the underdog, and even though the team has a number of injuries, that doesn’t mean the remaining players are inexperienced! For example, I’m expecting Del Piero and Di Vaio in the middle up front. We’ll have to be on our guard not to get swept up in their game. But we’re not chanceless. We proved last season that we have the ability to beat even the greatest clubs on the day.”
Feyenoord can certainly lean on an impressive history against Italian clubs on home turf. In four attempts, no Italian team has managed to beat the Rotterdammers in de Kuip. And Juventus has faced the might of the Legion before. Julio Cruz treated trainer Lippi’s team to a sweet 2-0 defeat in 97-98. Kees van Wonderen and Paul Bosvelt (who played up front) were selected by coach Leo Beenhakker at the time.
The match on Wednesday will be led by Spanish ref Antonio Lopez Nieto, starts at 20.45 and as ever can be followed live on Feyenoord Webradio.
PROBABLE FEYENOORD TEAM
Zoetebier; Gyan, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Van Haaren; Song, Emerton, Ono, Pardo; Van Hooijdonk and Buffel.