Feyenoord departed at 10:10 AM local time from Rotterdam The Hague Airport for Rijeka, touching down just before noon in Croatia. The 8th placed-team in the Eredivisie is looking for their second win in the group stage of the Europa League, which would mean a huge push in the right direction to the round of 32.

  • By Bas Vos
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11feekdndndjHowever, if we look to Feyenoords last European away win, we almost need a football history book. It was on the 2nd of October 2008, against the Swedish side Kalmar FF. Feyenoord won 2-1, turning around the 0-1 loss at home and proceeded to the group stage of the UEFA Cup on away goals.

Now, 2212 days later, things are looking good for Feyenoord if we look to the recent form. Four wins (three league and one Europa League) in a row surely give the 600 Feyenoord supporters who will attend the match hope for a very good result in Croatia.

Sven van Beek is still injured, after sustaining a leg injury in the training camp with the Netherlands U21’s during the play-offs. His replacement, Joris Mathijsen will also miss the match because of a hamstring injury, sustained in the match against Heracles last Saturday. His spot in the starting XI will be taken by Matthew Steenvoorden. Khalid Boulahrouz will return to the match squad from a knee injury, that kept him aside for almost three months. He played 70 minutes in a friendly of the reserves last Monday, and made a fine impression.

The one-to-watch is without doubt Elvis Manu. He is with his two game-winning Europa League goals responsible for already 1,4 million euros revenue for the club. Together with his attack partners Kazim-Richards and Toornstra and the other 8 players, he will seek victory, three points, coefficient points for club and country, and 200.000 euros.

If Feyenoord wins in the Stadion Kantrida and in De Kuip against Rijeka in two weeks, qualification to the round of 32 is up for grabs.

Possible Feyenoord XI: Vermeer; Wilkshire, Steenvoorden, Kongolo, Nelom; Clasie (captain), Immers, El Ahmadi; Toornstra, Kazim-Richards, Manu.

Absentees: Van Beek (leg), Lopes Cabral (knee), Mathijsen (hamstring)

The season of HNK Rijeka is going perfect for the club from the port city. The current and last season’s runners-up in the Prva HNL won the Croatian Super Cup last July and they only lost twice in the league, one of them was against rival and league leader Dinamo Zagreb. To reach the group stage, the winners of last season’s Croatian Cup had to beat the Hungarian side Ferencvárosi (home 1-0, away 2-1), the Faroe Islands team Víkingur (away 5-1, home 4-0) and the Moldovan club Sheriff Tiraspol (home 1-0, away 3-0).

Their first game in the group stage was however one to quickly forget. They lost to Standard Liège 0-2 in Belgium, but they recoverd two weeks later by almost upsetting Sevilla at home with a 2-2 draw, only conceding in added time.

Rijeka’s good form is almost entirely made by striker Andrej Kramarić, who has already scored 14 league goals in 10 league matches. His three European goals in eight matches results in a total of 17 goals in 18 matches, a stunning average of 0,94. If Feyenoord wants to have a clean sheet, they need to prevent him at all costs.

Possible HNK Rijeka XI: Vargić; Tomečak, Mitrović, Lešković, Knežević (captain, or Leovac) ; Cvijanović, Jajalo, Sharbini (captain in case Knežević does not play); Krstanović, Kramarić, Zec.

Absentees: Moisés (knee). Doubtful: Knežević (illness), Močinić (ankle)

Stadium: Stadion Kantrida

Capacity: 12.600 (10.000 during European matches)

Allocation away tickets for Feyenoord supporters: 600 (sold-out in 10 days)

Referee: Tom Harald Hagen (Norway)

Misses next match if booked: Kvržić (HNK Rijeka)

Prediction: HNK Rijeka 1-3 Feyenoord.

Bas Vos (12 Posts)