Less than a year after they met in a close-fought continental final, Feyenoord and Roma convene again on Thursday for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie, at De Kuip. While the Serie A side came out on top in last term’s Europa Conference League decider, their in-form hosts are on course to become Eredivisie champions and are well-placed to take revenge.
Last weekend brought mixed fortunes for Arne Slot, who is set to start Netherlands full-back Lutsharel Geertruida on Thursday evening. The 22-year-old recently returned from a hamstring problem picked up during his international debut against France last month and then featured in the win over RKC.
However, Alireza Jahanbakhsh had to pull out during the warm-up and may now be unavailable against Roma. Brazilian winger Igor Paixao stepped into the breach and then bagged his second goal in two league games, so stands ready to deputise again.
While Feyenoord’s midfield will be run by much-admired captain Orkun Kokcu, back-up goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther must start as the home side’s last line of defence, with first choice Justin Bijlow still out of action due to a wrist injury.
At the other end of his career compared to Kokcu, former Feyenoord player Georginio Wijnaldum is expected to form part of Roma’s midfield, but another familiar figure at De Kuip, Rick Karsdorp, was recently ruled out for several weeks.
After surprisingly being selected ahead of both Tammy Abraham and Andrea Belotti to start up front against Torino, Ola Solbakken suffered a dislocated shoulder and was withdrawn during the second half.
Therefore, Abraham should lead the line, supported by Paulo Dybala; captain Lorenzo Pellegrini will join them if he can recover from an illness which kept him out of Saturday’s trip to Turin.
Feyenoord possible starting lineup:
Wellenreuther; Geertruida, Trauner, Hancko, Hartman; Wieffer, Szymanski, Kokcu; Paixao, Gimenez, Idrissi
Roma possible starting lineup:
Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Llorente; Zalewski, Cristante, Wijnaldum, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Dybala; Abraham
Prediction: Feyenoord 2-1 Roma
Having scored 21 goals in their last six matches, Feyenoord can surely find the net at least once in front of their own fans; capitalising on Roma’s frailties outside the Italian capital. That could see the Rotterdam side take a slim lead into next week’s return leg.