An in-form Feyenoord take on HNK Rijeka tonight, with a win now crucial for the chances to go trough the second round of the Europa League.

  • By Bas Vos
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After the loss in Croatia two weeks ago, where it was seen that Feyenoords effectivity still needs to rise, the club from Rotterdam sits bottom of the group with three points. However, the leader Sevilla only has five and both Standard Liège and Rijeka has four points, so all is not lost for Feyenoord.

But Feyenoord still needs to win this match, also to score points for the country and club coefficient rankings. At the moment of writing, the Netherlands has scored 3,083 points, an all-time low in the last five years. And because the Netherlands will lose 11,116 points next summer, a drop-down in the ranking is predictable, risking the loss of a Champions League berth.

Feyenoord continues to develop great league form, now with five consecutive wins and only conceding one goal. If they show their ability to win matches while not playing their best, they are surely be able to win. What might be crucial is the first tie-breaker: head-to-head. If it’s equal, the goal difference will be taken into account. If Feyenoord wins 2-0, that one is equal as well, but they will top Rijeka in that case because of the away goal two weeks ago.

Good news from the doctor: Immers and Manu are match-fit, probably sending Boëtius and Vilhena back to the bench. However, Mathijsen and Lopes Cabral will miss the match, Mathijsen with a calf injury and Lopes Cabral with a knee injury.

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

Absentees: Mathijsen (calf), Lopes Cabral (knee)

Unlike Feyenoord, Rijeka did not have a good weekend, only drawing 1-1 against Slaven Belupo, who sit bottom of the Prva HNL. The runners-up are now six points behind rivals Dinamo Zagreb. They will be motivated to reach European football after winter, which would mean the first time since 1980.

700 Rijeka fans, most of them probably residing in the Netherlands, will attend the match. This means that the regular away section can be used and that riots before the match, like happend before the match against Standard, are unlikely to happen, also given to the fact that Rijeka fans find Feyenoord fans ‘the best group to have visited Rijeka, maybe whole Croatia’.

Possible HNK Rijeka XI: Vargić; Tomečak; Lesković, Mitrović, Leovac; Jajalo, Sharbini (captain), Cvijanovič; Kvržić, Jugović, Kramarić.

Absentees: Knežević (illness), Zlomislić (knee). Uncertain: Moisés (ankle)

Stadium: Stadion Feijenoord (De Kuip)

Capacity: 51.117

Allocation for HNK Rijeka supporters: at least 2556 (only 700 tickets sold)

Referee: Craig Alexander Thomson (Scotland)

Misses next match if booked: Nelom (Feyenoord), Kvržić, Leovac (HNK Rijeka). These three players better watch out, since Thomson does not mind to book players. He has yet to officiate a match without bookings this season.

Prediction: Feyenoord 2-0 HNK Rijeka.

Bas Vos (12 Posts)