Some say that too much emphasis is put on the preparations, because it’s in games that points are up for grabs. 'It’s only natural that there are sceptics who say that it can all go pear shaped, but you cannot do much more than ensuring your build-up goes as perfect as possible. And this time we have managed to do that. The group is looking good: everyone is sharp. So I’m very satisfied. But anyway, the preparations are over and we just have to work hard for three and a half months.'
Van Marwijk knows his players will have to up for it if they are to get anything from the game. 'They are almost unbeatable at home. FC Utrecht’s power is the combination of physical strength, the crowd, a huge amount of enthusiasm, plus the specific qualities of the players. I think we have to show that we can handle the physical side.'
As per usual Van Marwijk was unwilling to give anything away about his starting eleven at the Friday press conference. It does seem likely that Patrick Paauwe will retain his place on the left side of central defence alongside Ferry de Haan, while Kees van Wonderen starts in midfield. Johan Elmander’s recent form should be enough to guarantee his place, with Ebi Smolarek dropping to the bench.
Zoetebier; Emerton, De Haan, Paauwe, Rzasa; Elmander, Bosvelt, Van Wonderen, Ono; Van Hooijdonk, Tomasson