what is Feyenoord worth, future opponent of OM in the semi-finals?

OM eliminated PAOK on Thursday and joined the last four of the Conference League. RMC Sport takes a look at the next opponent of the club from Marseille in the semi-finals: the Dutch club Feyenoord Rotterdam.

After their victory in Greece against PAOK Saloniki (0-1) on Thursday, OM firmly secured their ticket to the semifinals of the Conference League. On April 28 and May 5, the club from Marseille will play for their place in the final against Feyenoord Rotterdam. Fallen Slavia Prague in the previous round will offer the Dutch club a nice confrontation to the Phocaeans.

Winner of the Champions League in 1970 and two UEFA Cup titles (1974 and 2002), the Rotterdam club has since been in the shadow of Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven. Last representative of the Netherlands in Europe this season, the group trained by Arne Slot can take advantage of this to shine internationally.

Attacking and spectacular football

After a big collective performance, Feyenoord eliminated Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic (1-3) this Thursday. Long known for their rough game and fairly limited style, the Rotterdam club is now one of the most attacking teams in the Netherlands. It’s simple, Feyenoord only played five games (out of 45 games in total) without scoring. No more hard play and counter attacks, give way to heavy press and possession based football.

“It’s quite insulting as a game. Arne Slot has completely transformed Feyenoord, tells RMC Sport Ruben Slagter, Dutch sports journalist based in Paris. In terms of identity, they were always hard workers with whom the public identifies. But since he has been there, there has been. has been a real game system, it’s busy in general, especially at home. […] The match against Slavia at home (3-3) can also end at 6-5 without any problems. We want to score more than the opponent instead of preventing him from scoring.”

A very fragile defense and a big black spot in the goals

But such a desire to play well is also accompanied by a certain defensive vulnerability. By going on the attack quickly, the team has lost its defensive balance and sometimes leaves large spaces. Feyenoord is also not used to playing many big matches in the Netherlands.

“In the championship they play maybe three or four times a year against teams at their peak, this Eredivisie observer analyzes more closely. They are less strong than Ajax or PSV, but when they play “against clubs like AZ Alkmaar, for example, we see a bit of limits in defense. Even against Slavia, who are not an incredible team, we saw that the defense can crack against heavy pressure.”

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One of the major concerns of OM’s next opponent, and Arkadiusz Milik’s partners would do well to capitalize on this, is the position of the goalkeeper. The permanent holder and Dutch international Justin Bijlow is out for the rest of the season. His replacement Ofir Marciano offers few guarantees. “The goalkeeper they have at the moment, the Israeli Marciano, he sucks, cuts Ruben Slagter. He is weak. Biljow’s absence is good news? That’s it, yes.”

Feyenoord’s ‘only season goal’

Like OM in Ligue 1, Feyenoord can no longer play for the win in the competition. But unlike Jorge Sampaoli’s protégés, who are likely to fight to the end for second place, the Dutchman shouldn’t have too many problems taking the podium. Third behind Ajax and PSV, the Rotterdam club is three points ahead of their first pursuer and 25 lengths better than the first team not to qualify for Europe. It is clear that Feyenoord will be almost guaranteed to play in Europe, aiming for a Conference League title before the end of the season.

“I don’t know if this is the real goal of the season, but it’s the only one they have at the moment at Feyenoord, the journalist explains again. Yes, it’s important for them to finish third, but in Europe it’s a real chance to watch.” we must not forget, but they have been playing in the Conference League since August. They started against a club from Kosovo (FC Drita, editor’s note) with guys who ate at McDo before playing against Feyenoord in Rotterdam. They were almost knocked out (3-2 win in the return after being led, editor’s note) Little by little, the club, especially the supporters, the players and the staff, have had the feeling since October that the goal is to go to Tirana for the Conference League final. By not finishing in the first two in the competition, the rest is not too interesting for them.”

Block the Kökcü-Til duo in the middle

Orkun Kökcü, who arrived at Feyenoord as a youngster, is the launch pad for this team. A real metronome in the midfield of the Dutch club, the Turkish international is one of the best passers in the Dutch championship with 14 selections. Since the start of the season, the 21-year-old has already handed out 2,088 passes with great success (86%). Better yet, the Turk often manages to find his teammates in the other half.

The torchbearer is not stingy with defensive efforts and receives many yellow cards (9 on 43 appearances this season) but his great activity also allows him to often find himself at the end of Feyenoord’s actions. With 9 goals and 8 assists in all competitions, he is the man who initiates dangerous actions for the Batavian team. If the OM defense don’t want to concede a goal or give Steve Mandanda too much work, they would do well to block Orkun Kökcü and prevent him from playing in a chair in the middle of the pitch.

Guus Til and Orkun Kökcü with Feyenoord, 21 November 2021
Guus Til and Orkun Kökcü with Feyenoord, 21 November 2021 © Icon Sport

And if it’s not Kökcü who is in danger, it is Guus Til. The Dutchman, who is higher in the field than his teammate, often lags behind at the entrance to the surface or in the area between the midfield and the opponent’s defence.

Technically adept, it has seen him punish rivals Feyenoord this season and score 21 goals in 43 appearances. Again, if William Saliba and Duje Caleta-Car want to play two fairly quiet games in the Conference League, Guus Til should not be given too much freedom. Absent from the quarterfinals won by Slavia in Prague (1-3), the neo-international with 4 international matches with Orange will like to shine in the double confrontation against OM.

Sinisterra and Dessers, the “limited” but effective poison and scorer

Among the other assets of this Feyenoord squad, two attackers could pose a major problem for the OM defence. The two big qualifying players who were snatched from Prague, Cyriel Dessers and Luis Sinisterra, finished the season with a bang. The Nigerian who arrived on tiptoe from Genk at the end of the summer transfer period has completely recovered at Rotterdam. After a shaky start to the season, he won his place as starter and continues to perform well. His double against Slavia put his team on their way to OM in the Conference League.

“Dessers is really the typical striker of Feyenoord. They have had so many strikers like that, says Ruben Slagter. In a sense it is a bit like Dirk Kuyt, a man who works all day but sometimes he frustrates you during the match. Then technically “It is still limited. There is no club above Feyenoord that wants to get him.”

Patrik Walemark with Luis Sinisterra and Cyriel Dessers during Slavia-Feyenoord, April 14, 2022
Patrik Walemark with Luis Sinisterra and Cyriel Dessers during Slavia-Feyenoord, 14 April 2022 © Icon Sport

But now in Rotterdam everything is going well with him and the Public Prosecution Service will have to be wary there. Especially if Arne Slot decides to associate him with Luis Sinisterra. The Colombian is the real poison of this team. Lively and agile, his dribbling hurts the opponent’s defenders. “He is a different story, the Dutch journalist finally believes. He has been a hit since the start of the season. If we are talking purely about talent and potential, that is the best they have at Feyenoord at the moment.” […] This is the greatest danger.”

Slightly favorites in this double showdown against the Dutch club, OM will have to play 100% to knock out this Feyenoord team and have the chance to lift the first Conference League trophy on May 25 in Albania.

Jean Guy Lebreton RMC Sports journalist