Why Feyenoord Shouldn’t be Underestimated Ahead of the UECL Final

Liam Bewsher

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Why Feyenoord Shouldn’t be Underestimated Ahead of the UECL Final

The inaugural Europa Conference League final will see AS Roma and Feyenoord take each other on at the Air Albania Stadium, otherwise known as Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania on Wednesday night.

Feyenoord, who managed a third-place finish in this season’s Dutch Eredivisie despite a strong record come into this game as underdogs, but the question that will be posed, is can they cause an upset against Jose Mourinho, a man who hasn’t won a trophy since 2017, and AS Roma, who are on a 14-year trophy drought?

Europa Conference League Final Tips

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FEYENOORD TO WIN, BTTS, 4+ CORNERS EACH TEAM AND 20+ BOOKING POINTS EACH TEAM @ 20/1

Feyenoord’s Record in the Dutch Eredivisie This Season

Ajax and PSV finished as first and second place in what was a strong Dutch Eredivisie league this year, as Erik ten Hag’s man-management saw the former win all of their group stage matches in the Champions League against the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Ajax, whilst PSV pushed Leicester all the way in the quarter-finals of this competition.

Feyenoord haven’t won the Dutch top flight since the 2016/17 campaign under Giovanni van Bronckhorst, but, have plenty of calibre, winning 15 Dutch Eredivise titles, 13 KNVB Cups and four Johan Cuijff Shields.

To add to this, they also have more European trophies than Roma, having won the European Cup in 1969/70, as well as the UEFA Cup twice, with their latest triumph as recent as 2001/02.

Arne Slot’s men have a lot of history to live up to, their third-place finish in the league this campaign was seen as progressive, as they were 12 points off a dominant Ajax side, as well as 10 behind PSV. Ironically, both of their rivals’ managers have departed, potentially giving them a slight head start ahead of next season.

The De Kuip club conceded just 34 league goals, the second-best record in the division and scored 76, showing that they can be a thrilling outfit on their day, having gone on to win 22 of their 34 domestic matches this season; including a 4-0 hammering of PSV away from home back in September.

Europa Conference League Final Tips

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ABRAHAM & DESSERS EACH 1+ SHOTS ON TARGET IN EACH HALF @ 20/1

Their run to Tirana

Feyenoord actually entered this competition via the play-offs, participating in the second qualifying round all the way back in late July, as they beat Kosovan outfit FC Drita 3-2 on aggregate, before hammering the likes of FC Luzern 6-0 on aggregate and IF Elfsborg 6-3 in the third round and play-off to eventually qualify for the group stages.

The Dutch side were paired up with some tricky opposition, taking on last year’s Europa League surprise package in Slavia Prague, German Bundesliga side Union Berlin, as well as Maccabi Haifa.

Slot’s men stormed the group, taking 14 points in total, scoring 11 and conceding six, following three home wins via 2-1 scorelines against Slavia and Haifa, as well as beating Union Berlin 3-1. Their only away win ironically came in Berlin by a 2-1 scoreline, taking points in 0-0 and 2-2 draws with Maccabi and Prague.

By winning their group, they avoided the Round of 32 phase where all of the Europa League dropouts get involved, advancing straight to the Round of 16 where they hammered Serbian outfit Partizan Belgrade 8-3 on aggregate.

The quarter-finals would see the Dutch club encounter some familiar faces as they were drawn to play Slavia Prague. This perhaps threw the biggest curveball of them all so far, as they drew the first leg at home 3-3 as Ibrahim Benjamin Traore levelled up the scoring in the 95th minute, however, a brace from Cyriel Dessers put them on their way to a 3-1 away win in Prague.

If anything, the semi-finals provided Feyenoord with a similar test to that which they’ll go up against in the final. Marseille, who are managed by ex-Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli managed a strong second-place finish in Ligue 1, conceding just 38 goals, two more than PSG and have proved to be awkward opposition.

The first leg finished in a tight 3-2 victory for Feyenoord at De Kuip, as they took a 2-0 lead through Dessers and Luis Sinisterra, before strikes by Bamba Dieng and Gerson levelled up the score, however, there was to be a twist as Dessers put Slot’s men back in the lead of the tie just after half time.

Feyenoord put in a professional display at the Orange Velodrome to advance to the final, as they drew 0-0 with less possession and shots than their feisty opposition, showing that they can mix nice football with rough play, as the match saw eight yellow cards awarded. They’ll head into this final hoping for their first European trophy since the 2002 UEFA Cup when they beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in Rotterdam via a Pierre van Hooijdonk brace and Jon Dahl Tomasson goal.

Europa Conference League Final Tips

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OVER 2.5 GOALS, 1+ CORNERS EACH TEAM IN EACH HALF, 20+ ROMA BOOKING POINTS AND 20+ FEYENOORD BOOKING POINTS @ 3/1

Players to Look Out For

Feyenoord plays what is known as ‘Total Football’ passing the ball out from the back, whilst utilising the centre of the pitch well. They have prodigious talents such as Lutsharel Geertruida and Tyrell Malacia as their full-backs who notably have good link-up play with Luis Sinisterra and former Brighton man Alireza Jahanbakhsh down the flanks.

Slot’s side have had a strong defensive record in the Eredivise and held firm under intense pressure away at Marseille, with goalkeeper Justin Biljow and centre back duo Marcos Sensi and Gernot Trauner all playing a huge part in this.

Orkun Kocku is a player that will be on scout reports of several high profile European sides this season, having managed nine goals and nine assists whilst playing central midfield at just 21-years-old. Kocku has already been capped 14 times at international by Turkey and provides good balance next to experienced campaigner Jens Toornstra.

What must be noted, however, is that Colombian winger Sinisterra is the third top scorer in the Europa Conference League this season with six goals and four assists in 11 matches, whilst Dessers has fired in 10 in 12 games and leads Roma’s Tammy Abraham by just one goal heading into this fixture, with an impressive average of a goal every 67 minutes.

Europa Conference League Final Tips

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TAMMY ABRAHAM & CYRIEL DESSERS BOTH TO SCORE @ 17/2

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