Feyenoord should have no reason to fear the likes of Juventus after they went all the way to lift the UEFA Cup last season, beating Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund in the semi-final and final respectively.
While their Champions League failure last season set them on their way to UEFA Cup glory Bert Van Marwijk's side will be determined to avoid Europe's second cup competition by qualifying from their group.
With Dinamo Kiev and Newcastle also in Group E Feyenoord should be confident of their chances and know a positive result against the favourites Juventus at De Kuip Stadium will set them up nicely indeed.
Feyenoord are currently third in the Eredivisie having won 3 and drawn 1 of their opening four matches. They have also impressively notched up nine goals in their last victories.
Juventus underachieved in a big way in last season's Champions League and they'll no doubt be desperate to show Europe exactly what they are made of this time around.
Coach Marcello Lippi has not spent big in this summer's transfer market but he has brought in a number of players to ensure that if the club pick up injuries, they'll remain strong in all areas. The likes of Emiliano Moretti, Davide Baiocco, Salvatore Fresi, Mauro Camoranesi and Marco Di Vaio have all been added to the Championship-winning squad. Chilean striker Marcelo Salas is like a new signing after spending the bulk of last season on the sidelines with a knee ligament injury.
On Sunday the Old Lady eased past Atalanta 3-0 in their opening Serie A game of the season. Alessandro Del Piero found the target twice, with debutante Salvatore Fresi netting the third from 25 meters out. That match was all over by half-time but this one promises to be a whole different kettle of fish against a Feyenoord side with the backing of a hostile home support.
South Korean World Cup star Song Chong-Gug made his debut for Feyenoord in Saturday's 5-1 win at FC Twente and bagged two fine assists in the win, but a lack of match fitness may mean he misses the clash with Juve. Fellow recent signings Pardo and Bombardo may also miss out as van Marwijk is likely to field a team full of European experience. Ivory Coast star Bonaventure Kalou has missed the last two games after returning late from international duty, but he should return to the starting line-up.
The injured David Trezeguet, Gianluca Pessotto, Antonio Conte and Gianluca Zambrotta have not travelled with the squad to Holland. Edgar Davids is likely to replace Davide Baiocco in midfield, while Marco Di Vaio should again get the nod up-front ahead of Marcelo Salas. Lippi must decide whether to play Ciro Ferrara or Mark Iuliano alongside Paolo Montero in the centre of defence.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Feyenoord : Pierre Van Hooijdonk - Arguably the greatest freekick taker in European football van Hooijdonk is in fine form this season and has been freshly crowned as Holland's player of the year. Even if Feyenoord are having a bad day he is more than capable of scoring a goal out of nothing.
Juventus : Alessandro Del Piero hit two goals on Sunday including a fine headed effort from a Pavel Nedved cross. Juve general manager Luciano Moggi has this week said that the club will offer him a new long-term deal, even though his current contract expires in 2004.
Feyenoord : Zoetebier; Emerton, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Van Haaren; Kalou, Bosvelt, Ono, Lurling; Buffel, Van Hooijdonk.
Juventus (4-4-2): Buffon; Thuram, Ferrara or Iuliano, Montero, Moretti; Camoranesi, Tacchinardi, Davids, Nedved; Del Piero, Di Vaio.
Feyenoord will face a tough test from Italian champions Juventus at De Kuip Stadium on Wednesday, but they are in good form have few injuries and will have the confidence that they beat some of Europe's best to win the UEFA Cup last year. Juventus begun their league campaign with a win, but will have to settle for a draw here.
++ [ originally posted by Holden ] ++
It's funny seeing so many of you predicting a Juve win, I think I'll remain cautious in my predictions and say it'll be a draw - afterall a pessimist is never disappoited.
It’s Champions League time. The long awaited clash is getting closer and closer and Gigi Buffon, talking with the journalists, speaks of the mood of the team before the European debut.
“Surely it will be a battle, not only for the quality of the opponent, Feyenoord, who’s doing well in his National League, but also for the atmosphere in which we’re going to play. I remember that I came to Holland two years ago with Parma and the fans were really hot. And then there’s the Champions-atmosphere, which is always something special. We’re properly excited and loaded, ready for a big debut”.
After the highs of the great win over FC Twente, Monday brought bad news with sad family circumstances for Paul Bosvelt. “When I mentioned the news in the changing rooms, it was quiet immediately. This type of thing has quite an impact on the group,” trainer Van Marwijk mentions in the run-up to the match against Juve. But tough as it may sound, the world of football just keeps turning.
Bert van Marwijk doesn’t expect to play his captain on Wednesday evening. “Paul will have to decide for himself whether he wants to play or not, but I’m not counting on him.” The question is who is going to take the midfielder’s place. Van Marwijk would most like to leave together the duo that was so effective in Twente, Song and Emerton, but as usual Van Marwijk is tight-lipped. “There are really only two options – Kees van Wonderen could play in the middle, but that would mean moving the whole team around, something I’d rather not do. You’ll have to guess the other option,” the coach adds with a wry smile.
Bret Emerton would be the most logical solution for the vacated position. The Australian’s right back position could then be filled by Chris Gyan, allowing Korean Song to remain in the middle of the field. A less obvious construction would be to move Thomas Buffel back a row. In that case, Kalou would take the position of the Belgian, and Song and Everton would take the right. Plenty of ideas, but Van Marwijk will not be drawn out of his cage. “It’s not that hard, and I’ve already told you enough.”
Van Marwijk does have a comment about the Italians in the first group game in the Champions’ League. “There’s no doubt we’re the underdog, and even though the team has a number of injuries, that doesn’t mean the remaining players are inexperienced! For example, I’m expecting Del Piero and Di Vaio in the middle up front. We’ll have to be on our guard not to get swept up in their game. But we’re not chanceless. We proved last season that we have the ability to beat even the greatest clubs on the day.”
Feyenoord can certainly lean on an impressive history against Italian clubs on home turf. In four attempts, no Italian team has managed to beat the Rotterdammers in de Kuip. And Juventus has faced the might of the Legion before. Julio Cruz treated trainer Lippi’s team to a sweet 2-0 defeat in 97-98. Kees van Wonderen and Paul Bosvelt (who played up front) were selected by coach Leo Beenhakker at the time.
The match on Wednesday will be led by Spanish ref Antonio Lopez Nieto, starts at 20.45 and as ever can be followed live on Feyenoord Webradio.
PROBABLE FEYENOORD TEAM
Zoetebier; Gyan, Van Wonderen, Paauwe, Van Haaren; Song, Emerton, Ono, Pardo; Van Hooijdonk and Buffel.
Brett Emerton will be hoping for better luck with Lopez Nieto Wednesday, when the Spaniard takes charge of Feyenoord’s Champions League opener at home to Juventus. The Spaniard was the man in the middle in last season’s UEFA Cup semifinal against Inter Milan when the Aussie was harshly shown a yellow card for timewasting, a decision that cost Emerton an appearance in the final. Lopez’s assistants are Giraldez Carrasco and Chirino Rivera.
Antonio Lopez Nieto is a very experienced referee with a reputation for being hard but fair. So while he did once booked sixteen players in one game – an unenviable record if ever there was one, he also blew the whistle on Dynamo Kiev when management at Feyenoord’s future Champions League opponent tried their hand at bribery, an allegation denied by said management by the way.
++ [ originally posted by DP's_Apprentice ] ++
He seems to be quite fond of Juve and Del Piero to me, I heard him say before the world cup that DP would be the player to watch if he got enough playing time,and he thought that Juve would reach the Champs League semis last season (said so in Celtic vs Juve).
i have no idea what time the game's on, i think it's something like 2am here so i might skip the fun tonight
i may be a strong sleepless student, but i'm not feeling all that well today - so i want lively commentary to read tomorrow morning, k?