Are Feyenoord Holland's Rovers?
Perhaps the most famous and successful side in Group E, but as we are all aware a sound history and great facilities doesn`t guarantee success.
Feyenoord is a club renowned through out Europe as one of Holland`s 'big three`. The other two are Ajax of Amsterdam and Andre Ooijer`s old employers, PSV Eindhoven. There are also two other top flight sides from the Rotterdam; Sparta and Excelsior.
The club are 98 years old and have a long history of success. They have won the top division, the Eredivisie, 14 times and the Dutch Cup 10 times. Interestingly Feyenoord`s recent success mirrors that of Rovers`, although they have gone on to sustain it. Their return to recognition began in the 1992-1993 season and after steady progress finally won the Eredivisie again. However, in recent years they have been left behind by the other top two, last recording domestic success in 1999.
In fact their last trophy was the UEFA Cup in 2002, won in front of their own fans. This was perhaps won of the main factors why they won the competition. Their fans are renowned for being some of the most passionate in world football. So Rovers will have to prepare themselves. The scenes in Krakow will be nothing in comparison to the fervent support of the Het Legioen.
It is clear for all to see that they have a long and successful history especially when you consider some of the greats to have worn the famous red and white halves. Ruud Guillet, Johan Cruijff and Ronald Koeman are but a few recognised names. The Premiership has often imported players from Feyenoord. Indeed Rovers bought Brett Emerton from them. Names like Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt and Ed De Goey also stand out.
So what can Rovers expect from such an illustrious team?
Well firstly it is important to point out that the standard of players afore mentioned certainly won`t be gracing the game. Feyenoord have seen a decline in recent years and continue to struggle to attract and develop quality players like Ajax and PSV do. This is the primary reason they are languishing in ninth.
The gulf between the qualities of sides was demonstrated in an emphatic manner at the weekend in the Klassieker, when Ajax thumped Feyenoord, at Feyenoord, 4-0.
Their current squad does boast a number of experienced and recognizable individuals such as Pierre van Hooijdonk, Theo Lucius, Angelos Charisteas and Phillip Leonard, who Rovers tried to sign once upon a time. They also have some exciting young talent that Mark Hughes will have to do his homework on. Names like Tim Vinken and Romeo Castelen are likely to become recognized in a few years.
It is fair to say that out of all the teams in Group E, Feyenoord are the ones that closely resemble Rovers when we consider their form this season.
They too are mid table and have generally been inconsistent. It is hard to pin down any patterns of form for them. Generally they are very solid at home, winning three out of their last four but the mauling by Ajax suggests they aren`t indestructible there.
Their games generally seem to be quite open affairs with 17 goals scored for and against in the last five league matches.
No doubt Mark Hughes will send his troops out in Rotterdam to produce a solid display and come away with a point. This wouldn`t be beyond the imagination. Rovers have begun scoring from all over the pitch and if McCarthy can continue his fine form then a draw would be a distinct possibility.
Further encouragement can be taken from the fixture between Basel and Feyenoord on the same night Rovers beat Wisla Krakow. Feyenoord`s match finished 1-1 after a late equaliser from one of Feyenoord`s new boys Ali Boussaboun. Basel, the home side, were dominant throughout and suggestions have been made that Feyenoord were lucky to get the point.
Rovers play Feyenoord in Rotterdam as the third fixture in the group stages and it could be a good time to play them. They continue to be brilliantly inconsistent and their last two results seemed to have sapped a lot of confidence from them.
It will be interesting though what kits the two sides will be wearing!
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