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Rutten: Sevilla will not have it so easy again

Feyenoord were having a torrid start to the season when they fell meekly to Sevilla FC in September but, with eight wins from ten, they will be a different proposition for the rematch.

Feyenoord on their way to training on the eve of the game
Feyenoord on their way to training on the eve of the game ©AFP/Getty Images

There was only one team in it when Sevilla FC launched their UEFA Europa League title defence in September, scarcely breaking into a trot as they wrapped up a 2-0 victory over a floundering Feyenoord side. Two months on, as they prepare to meet again, the dark clouds that hung over the Rotterdam club have cleared – the holders, they say, will not have it so easy this time.

"In that first match we weren't really ready for such a big game; Sevilla overpowered us in the second half," said Feyenoord coach Fred Rutten. "This level was new for most of my players and they had to get used to each other. Since then we have improved and developed as a team.

"My players are able to find each other much more easily. Our game has improved a lot. We have achieved good results and there is a lot of stability. Our defence is very solid and we don't concede many goals. This gives us a lot of faith for the Sevilla match."

The statistics certainly provide cause for optimism: the matchday one defeat came amid a torrid start to the season that elicited two last-gasp victories in 12 outings; since, they have won eight out of ten. A 2-0 home triumph over Dordrecht 90 at the weekend cemented their place in the top four of the Eredivisie.

Grzegorz Krychowiak struck early in September
Grzegorz Krychowiak struck early in September©AFP/Getty Images

In the UEFA Europa League Feyenoord have risen to second in Group G, and a success on Thursday will seal a last-32 place provided R. Standard de Liège fail to win at HNK Rijeka. Sevilla, though, have their own agenda. A victory and they wrap up first place while a draw will also take them through if Rijeka cannot beat Standard.

Unai Emery is not anticipating an easy ride. "This is our third away game in the tournament this season," said the visiting coach, whose side lost 5-1 at FC Barcelona on Saturday. "The first two, at Rijeka and Standard Liège, ended in draws. It wasn't easy and Feyenoord will be more of the same. A lot has changed since two months ago. Feyenoord have become much stronger."

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