Feyenoord and AZ Alkmaar pause their Eredivisie activities for a clash in the KNVB Beker quarter-finals on Wednesday evening.
With PSV Eindhoven leading the Dutch league, this cup offers both teams their best shot at winning a trophy this season.
Feyenoord has done well in defending their Eredivisie title, earning 46 points from 20 games.
However, they are 10 points behind PSV, partly due to recent ties with NEC Nijmegen and Twente.
A recent 1-0 victory over AZ in an away league match has improved Feyenoord’s chances, especially as PSV drew with Ajax.
Now, Feyenoord aims to rejuvenate their season, hoping to leverage their status as the top team remaining in this competition.
Feyenoord beat PSV 1-0 in the last 16, after a 2-1 win over FC Utrecht in the earlier round.
AZ, on the other hand, urgently needs to improve after five winless Eredivisie matches.
Their recent loss to Feyenoord puts them at risk of falling to fifth place, tied in points with a recovering Ajax.
Despite a challenging schedule ahead, Martens seeks a significant win to validate his recent hiring.
AZ struggled against lower-tier teams in this cup, needing extra time to beat HHC 3-2 and a penalty shootout to defeat Quick Boys after a 3-3 tie in the last 16.
Feyenoord KNVB Beker form: W W
Feyenoord form (all competitions): L D W W D W
AZ Alkmaar KNVB Beker form: W W
AZ Alkmaar form (all competitions): D L W D D L
Following goalkeeper Justin Bijlow’s injury on Sunday, Timon Wellenreuther is expected to take his place for Feyenoord.
Bart Nieuwkoop and Yankuba Minteh might get a chance on the wings, though Slot could keep most of his previous lineup.
For AZ, Ernest Poku and Ibrahim Sadiq are contenders to start, with Kristijan Belic possibly making his second midfield start since joining from Partizan Belgrade.
Like his counterpart, Martens is likely to make few changes, aiming to advance in the competition.
Feyenoord possible starting lineup:
Geertruida, Trauner, Hancko, Hartman;
Wieffer, Timber, Zerrouki;
Nieuwkoop, Gimenez, Minteh
AZ Alkmaar possible starting lineup:
Penetra, Goes, Bazoer, Wolfe;
Clasie, Mijnans, De Wit;
Poku, Pavlidis, Sadiq
Prediction: Feyenoord 3-1 AZ Alkmaar
Considering AZ’s struggle to maintain fourth place in the league due to recent poor performances, we predict a strong home win for Feyenoord, even if Slot opts for a few lineup changes.