Feyenoord take on Roma tonight in De Kuip, with the round of 16 in the Europa League within reach after a 1-1 draw in Rome. However, the match is surrounded with issues that nothing to do with the beautiful sport.

  • By Bas Vos
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The incidents last week in Rome on the match day are still in the minds of supporters of both clubs. While Feyenoord fans are still angry about the way the police, the Italians, media and politics reacted to the incidents, Roma fans are out on revenge of the claimed destructions on the fountain near the Spanish Steps. The claims are unfounded, since detailed pictures before and after the disturbances clearly shows little to no difference: the damage was already in place and is only worth about € 2000, according to an Italian expert.

Rome responded totally disproportionately by stabbing at least 12 innocent Feyenoord fans. Reports about a nurse mocking a fan, airport staff damaging a suitcase of a fan and a fan recieving more than 60 hits with a police bat before being transported to hospital reached me as well.

But let’s focus on tonights match. There is good news and bad news for Feyenoord: Sven van Beek returns in the starting eleven after an infected knee tendon, after already being unused on the bench against Excelsior last Sunday. However, Luke Wilkshire and Lex Immers both got their third European yellow card last week in Rome, meaning that they are suspended. Fred Rutten needs to reshuffle his team for it, taking in account that Khalid Boulahrouz has not played well the last few weeks.

However, Rutten hinted that he does not want to change much about the team. ‘I have a lot of options’ he said yesterday. He also commented on Francesco Totti: ‘He is so important. You are thinking ‘I got him.’ But just like Romario in the days, he is suddenly gone.’ He continued: “The result of the first game was good, but we know we were very lucky. The result is no guarantee we will get through. We know they are very difficult to beat. They are very patient and will wait for us to make a mistake. Two important players are suspended, so this will be a different team this time. Our team is very young and we have to be aware of Roma’s skill and the experience. Nevertheless, we want a big result.”

Possible Feyenoord XI: Vermeer; Boulahrouz, Van Beek, Kongolo, Nelom; Clasie, Toornstra, El Ahmadi; Karsdorp, Kazim-Richards, Vilhena.

Absentees: Lopes-Cabral (knee), Immers, Wilkshire (suspended)

This could be the right time for Feyenoord to play against AS Roma. Their form is deterioating, drawing again last Sunday (1-1 against Hellas Verona), which is the eighth in the last eleven league matches. The pressure is rising on coach Rudi García, with the Italian newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport hinting that elimination in the Europa League against Feyenoord could mean the sacking of García.

García even said to De Telegraaf earlier this week that his team lacks motivation, but that is lied without doubt, since there is no coach in the entire world that will admit before an important match that his team lacks motivation. He said yesterday in the press conference: “We know that the match tomorrow is very important. It’s one of the biggest matches this season. It is clear that we want to win, but therefore we have to score a goal. That’s going to be a difficult task, because Feyenoord are a tough team to beat, especially at their home ground. We want a lot of possession and to create as many chances as in the first game. But we must be clinical this time. We are confident of getting the result we want.”

Francesco Totti is back in De Kuip, where he lost the final of Euro 2000 in extra time. ‘That was a good match. Too bad we lost. Hopefully, the result will be better tomorrow.’ he said.

Possible Roma XI: Skorupski; Torosidis, Manolas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Holebas; Pjanic, De Rossi, Nainggolan; Gervinho, Totti, Ljajic.

Absentees: Ibarbo (calf), Iturbe (knee), Leandro Castan (head), Maicon (knee)

Kick-off: 20:05 GMT, 21:05 CET

Stadium: Stadion Feijenoord (De Kuip)

Capacity: 51.117 (more than 40.000 tickets sold, sold-out for over a month)

Allocation for Roma supporters: 2400 (sold-out)

Referee: Clément Turpin (France). He officiated Feyenoord once before, in the away match against Kuban Krasnodar in the play-off round of the Europa League last season. Feyenoord lost 1-0.

Misses next match if booked: El Ahmadi, Clasie, Kazim-Richards, Nelom (Feyenoord), Maicon, Nainggolan, Yanga-Mbiwa (Roma)

TV: Canale 5 (Italy), RTL 7 (Netherlands), BT Sport 1 (United Kingdom)

Prediction: The best way for Feyenoord fans to commit revenge on everything that went wrong last week, is cheering their club to the round of 16. It will be a heated battle, but at the end, Feyenoord will go through with a 1-1 draw after 90 and winning the penalty shoot-out.

Bas Vos (12 Posts)