Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Feyenoord: From Big Three to bottom three

Posted in European Football by peterbein on November 21, 2010
Mario Been

Feyenoord coach Mario Been is a man under pressure

Feyenoord Rotterdam is a footballing institution in the Netherlands. For many years it is often referred to as one of the “Big Three” along with Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven but, although this is historically true, it is very much diminishing in terms of achievement for most of the last decade. Since winning the UEFA Cup in 2002, a tournament win which was supposed to herald a renaissance within the club, Feyenoord have only won one trophy since and that was ‘only’ the Dutch Cup in 2008. For a club whose hopes are to challenge for the title, each passing year without a trophy hurts. What’s worse is when your team, so used to being at the top, is hovering dangerously close to the bottom of the league table.

That is the precarious position which Feyenoord now find themselves in following their 2-0 defeat away at FC Groningen today. FC Groningen went up to third place as a result of the win, a position which Feyenoord would normally both aspire and expect to be at worst. Even more embarrassing for Feyenoord is that their cross-city neighbours Excelsior, hardly a rival on any scale, are currently looking down at the more illustrious Rotterdam giants. Even if the gap between the two teams is just one place and one point the fact is that Feyenoord are in a big mess and for coach Mario Been, a former Feyenoord player, the job just gets harder and harder.

Feyenoord’s last league championship win was in 1998-99, since then PSV Eindhoven have dominated the Eredivisie having won it seven times whilst Ajax have won it twice. In the last two years there have been two new teams who have savoured title success in the form of AZ Alkmaar and Twente Enschede. When provincial clubs such as those can boast they’ve won the title it makes Feyenoord’s title drought all the more depressing for their hardcore loyal supporters who, most would agree, are the most vociferous and passionate in Holland. Signs of danger weren’t so apparent in the first few years following the last title win. In 2002 Feyenoord beat Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Cup final and for six out of seven seasons following their last championship win the Rotterdammers finished in the top three. From the 2006-07 season, however, things have not been easy for Feyenoord and a distinct lack of success – bar the 2008 Dutch Cup win against Roda JC Kerkrade – weighs over the club especially in light of less glamourous but ambitious clubs such as AZ and Twente having their moment in the spotlight.

This season has seen many a lowlight but none more so than the 10-0 defeat at the hands of PSV Eindhoven which has gone down as the club’s heaviest ever league defeat. That defeat in late October has certainly rocked the club to the core and they have taken only five points from the last five games since that infamous day. In today’s encounter at Groningen a brace from Slovenian striker Tim Matavž sent Feyenoord down into 16th place in the 18 team Eredivisie. If this position was to be replicated at the end of the season then Feyenoord would see themselves in the relegation play-offs. Feyenoord’s fans could be forgiven for thinking that even their club is not too big to go down when taking such bad form into account. The only point of stability is that the club are standing by coach Been, but for how long? Only time will tell.

FIFA Club World Cup preview

FIFA Club World Cup

Seven teams will fight it out in the UAE for the trophy

Love it or loathe it the FIFA Club World Cup is going to remain a staple part of the football calendar. To some observers it’s a chance to win a trophy and add more prestige to their club. To some others it’s a competition that turns up in the middle of a long hard season, getting in the way of domestic progress. Either way there will be seven teams in the United Arab Emirates from December 9-19 who will be giving everything to win the cup. Here is Stoppage Time’s guide to the participants:

FC BARCELONA – UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

FC Barcelona became European champions for the third time in May after beating Manchester United 2-0 in Rome. It is surprising that a massive club such as “Barça” has never won the FIFA Club World Cup or its predecessor, the Intercontinental Cup. After twice being crowned European champions in 1992 and 2006 the Catalans have been defeated by Brazilian clubs in their attempts to be crowned the world’s best. In 1992 a São Paulo side inspired by Rai beat Barça 2-1 and then, three years ago, Internacional scored a late goal to deny Barcelona again. This time the ‘Blaugrana’ hope to make it third time lucky in this tournament and add the FIFA Club World Cup to the other five trophies they’ve won under their coach Pep Guardiola.

ESTUDIANTES DE LA PLATA – COPA LIBERTADORES WINNERS 2009

Estudiantes won their fourth Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 victory over two legs against Brazilian side Cruzeiro. The Argentinian side had a mixed record in the Intercontinental Cup during their heyday in the late 1960s and early 70s. Their solo victory came in 1968 after a 2-1 aggregate win over Manchester United (before 1979 the champions of Europe and South America played home and away matches to win the cup). Their next two efforts, however, ended in failure; in 1969 Milan won 4-2 on aggregate and in 1970 Feyenoord Rotterdam claimed their only world title with a 3-2 aggregate win. Can Juan Sebastián Verón emulate his father Juan Ramón’s achievements and become a world champion with his boyhood club?

ATLANTE CF – CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Mexican side secured their second CONCACAF Champions League title after an all-Mexican affair with Cruz Azul ended up 2-0 after a two-legged final. Atlante’s other title win was back in 1983 when they defeated Surinam’s Robinhood FC (yes, really!) 6-1 over two legs. Atlante’s Club World Cup campaign will kick-off at the quarter-final stage against either Al Ahli or Auckland City, who meet in the first match of the competition.

POHANG STEELERS – AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The three time Asian champions have not always dominated the domestic scene in South Korea but tend to thrive in Asian club competition. After previous successes in 1997 and 1998, Pohang Steelers won a third title this year by defeating Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia 2-1 in Tokyo’s National Stadium. Pohang will play against TP Mazembe at the quarter-final stage, the winner of which faces Estudiantes in the semi-finals.

TP MAZEMBE – CAF AFRICAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The Congolese side have been African champions on three occasions after their most recent success was decided on away goals against Nigerian team Heartlands FC. After the Nigerians won the first leg 2-1 at home, Mazembe won the second leg 1-0 to secure a passage to the Middle East. A meeting with Estudiantes de la Plata awaits if they can overcome Pohang Steelers in the quarter-final.

AUCKLAND CITY – OFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS 2009

The New Zealanders will be participating in the FIFA Club World Cup for a second time, after their previous appearance in 2006, following their 9-4 win over Soloman Islands’ club Koloale FC in the two-legged OFC Champions League final. In 2006 Auckland City lost in the opening play-off match to Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0. Can they avoid a repeat against a similarly named Al Ahli of UAE in this year’s tournament?

AL AHLI – UAE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS 2009

Representing the host country in this year’s tournament, Al Ahli have never been Asian champions but are the current UAE League champions after winning the title by one point from nearest challengers Al Jazira Club. Last season’s attempt at continental glory came to an end in the group phase of the AFC Champions League competition. Will meet Atlante CF in the quarter-final if they beat Auckland City in the play-off match.