Five games into the Eredivisie season and Feyenoord are the only team with a 100% winning record.
In addition to beating FC Twente, Excelsior and ADO Den Haag at their De Kuip Stadium, Feyenoord have recorded away victories against FC Groningen and Heracles Almelo, to establish a two point advantage over last season’s champions PSV Eindhoven at the top of the table.
As such the Rotterdam based club are in fine form ahead of the start of their Europa League campaign, which they will commence with a home game against Manchester United, who themselves have begun the season promisingly.
Positive start to the season made by United under guidance of Mourinho
Specifically after winning the Community Shield by defeating Leicester City 2-1, Jose Mourinho’s side won each of their first three English Premier League games, before losing their fourth 2-1 at home to their fierce rivals Manchester City.
A quartet who started that game is set to miss their clubs Europa League opener against Feyenoord.
Those four players are Jesse Lingard, Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia, with Mourinho being acutely aware of the need to operate an economical squad rotation system, so as to ensure his team efficiently handle the demands of simultaneously competing in domestic and European competition.
Subsequently the Portuguese manager is likely to draft Michael Carrick, Matteo Darmian, Memphis Depay and Timothy Fosu – Mensah into his squad, whilst starting Marcos Rojo and Marcus Rashford in place of Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard respectively.
Continuity of selection key to Feyenoord’s early season success
Whilst United, who gained direct entry to the Europa League by winning last season’s F.A Cup, represent formidable opposition for Feyenoord, as an extremely cohesive and well – balanced collective unit, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst’s side possess the potential to overcome the three-time European Cup winners.
Similar to United, Feyenoord secured qualification to the Europa League by winning last season’s Dutch Cup, as Van Bronckhorst delivered a first trophy to the club since 2008.
A chief characteristic of Feyenoord’s wonderful start to the Eredivisie season has been the continuity of Van Bronckhorst’s team selection whereby the 41-year-old, who made a total of 247 appearances for the club as a player, has named an almost identical starting XI in each of his side’s first five league games.
Specifically ten players are ever present’s this season in Van Bronckhorst’s 4-3-3 system, as he has made just one enforced change to his team, with that being as a result of an injury to Elijero Elia during the second of Feyenoord’s five wins, which was a 2-0 home success against FC Twente.
Whilst his unavailability arrived as a major blow to Van Bronckhorst, since the 29-year-old left winger scored a hat-trick to help The Club of the People open their Eredivisie campaign with a 5-0 win over FC Groningen 5-0, Elia’s deputy has softened that by seamlessly settling into Feyenoord’s side. On loan from Watford for the season, the Dutch internationalist Steven Berghuis, who shone for Alkmaar during seasons 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, is performing excellently on Feyenoord’s left wing in Elia’s absence.
Greatly assisting Berghuis’ smooth integration into Feyenoord’s team is the settled nature of that, as Van Bronckhorst has devised an early season winning formula.
Key components of that are goalkeeper Brad Jones, a back four of Eric Botteghin, Terence Kongolo, Lucas Woudenberg and Rick Karsdrop, the midfield trio of Karim El Ahmadi, Jens Toornstra, Tony Vilhena, along with Nicolai Jorgensen and Dirk Kuyt in attack.
As previously alluded to, each of the aforementioned ten players have started each of Feyenoord’s five Eredivisie league wins this season.
Prospect of an enthralling encounter between Feyenoord and Manchester United
Subsequently the 1980 European Cup winners, who also won the 2002 UEFA Cup, embark upon their latest continental adventure in excellent form.
They will aspire to continue that to earn a positive result against a talented Manchester United team featuring the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Therefore the Europa League game between the two teams has the potential to be an intriguing encounter.
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