By Patrick Hart
Feyenoord and Newcastle United FC will have more in common on Wednesday than either would care to admit. When these sides come together for their final Group E game in Rotterdam, they will be chasing a common goal and facing a common enemy. The aim will be to extend their UEFA Champions League campaigns beyond the change of seasons. The foe both must try to forget, meanwhile, will be the heightened expectations of supporters.
One last chance
Last season was a remarkable one for both sets of fans. Feyenoord lifted the UEFA Cup at their home ground. Newcastle raised the bar at St James' Park by finishing fourth in the Premiership. Now the hopes of one or the other are set to dip dramatically. Both clubs need a win to have any chance of progress - yet even that might not be enough. Second-placed FC Dynamo Kyiv, who lead Newcastle by a point and Feyenoord by two, host an under-strength Juventus FC team who have already qualified for the second group stage.
Newcastle 'go for it'
Newcastle will, in the words of coach Sir Bobby Robson, "go for it". "We are going for the win which would give us the chance of more Champions League football," the former PSV Eindhoven coach said. "If we lost or drew in Holland we would be kicking ourselves if Juventus won in Kyiv."
Return of Bellamy
Robson's adventurous approach will be personified by Craig Bellamy, who will play at least some part. The Welsh striker, who missed the back-to-back wins against Juventus and Dynamo through suspension, has been struggling with a knee injury which Robson seems ready to risk "because it's the last chance".
Feyenoord injury fear
The Magpies, beaten by Arsenal FC on Saturday, have the consolation of knowing a draw will put them in the UEFA Cup third round. Feyenoord entertain the doleful possibility of not even being able to defend that trophy. Their problems began when centre-forward Pierre van Hooijdonk was sidelined with an ankle injury and defeats by Dynamo and Juventus followed. Now the worry for coach Bert van Marwijk is that the team's other talisman, Paul Bosvelt, could miss out with a calf injury. "He trained today but we will see how he does tomorrow," the trainer said.
Win or bust
With Shinji Ono suspended, and the walking wounded led by goalkeeper Edwin Zoetebier and striker Bonaventure Kalou, Van Marwijk has "big question marks" against his selection. Not, however, against his will to win: "We are playing at home so you have to have confidence and we have only one thing to do - win."
'Prize is enormous'
Newcastle, too, could be forgiven for feeling at home in these North Sea climes. Rotterdam was the venue of the English club's first away game in Europe - in the 1967/68 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. Feyenoord won 2-0, but Newcastle went on to lift the trophy. How keen either will be to renew acquaintances with the tournament remains to be seen although the UEFA Cup could yet prove their salvation. "The prize for both teams is enormous - to stay in Europe," said Robson.
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