Eredivisie matchday 3 preview: Ajax face PSV as Heracles & Willem II look to lose their pointless status
Heracles Almelo – SC Cambuur: ‘No YOU are the relegation candidate’
Heracles are pointless, but not in the way that they do not have any right to exist in the Eredivisie. The best way for them to prove this is to get a result against SC Cambuur, who after two match days are still unbeaten but haven’t recorded a victory yet. Bryan Linssen will have something to prove for the team from Almelo as FC Groningen didn’t deem a 3 million euro fee viable for a player of his calibre. Denni Avdic will be eager to cap his debut with a goal for the Heraclieden too. There needs to be improvement in defence though as the club has conceded three goals in consecutive matches.
Meanwhile, Cambuur got a point at home against FC Twente and another one away at Vitese, results they will be buoyed with. Now, against another potential relegation candidate it is time to improve that record with Michiel Hemmen in top form. The physically imposing striker dazzled last week with an impressive solo effort and will be eager to repeat a similar feat against Heracles.
Willem II – AZ: Attack versus attack minus defence equals entertainment
The fixture list hasn’t been kind to Willem II. After a tough home game against title contenders and an away trip to the bastion that is called De Galgenwaard of FC Utrecht, Willem II find themselves 17th. A visit of AZ, who relish a title push this season knowing they’ll probably end up fighting for Europa League football, is hardly the ideal third match of the season. AZ got a slight knock after being defeated 1-3 by Ajax, but will be eager to revenge themselves.
Steven Berghuis has scored in both his first two games for AZ this season and will hope can do similar damage against AZ, while Terrell Ondaan has been the outstanding player for the Tricolores so far. Both teams have a lot to sort at the back but look promising going forward so this game might be more about goals than about saves and blocks.
sc Heerenveen – Excelsior: No Ziyech no party as Excelsior look to capitalize
The Frisian club start their second home game of the season, but without any of the players that made the Abe Lenstra Stadion so homely. Bilal Basacikoglu has left, Alfred Finnbogason has left, Rajiv van la Parra has left. It showed, as Heerenveen lost against FC Dordrecht at home first before drawing at Feyenoord a week later. And now even Hakim Ziyech has chosen to take a new step in his career, as the playmaker has joined FC Twente, making his debut in the Europa League game versus FK Qarabag.
Now, they have to fight Excelsior with the striker who is currently waiting on a goal for 1035 minutes, while Excelsior seem quite confident after two games.Dijkhuizen’s Excelsior battle cry was met with inspirational performances against NAC (1-1) and Go Ahead Eagles (3-2) and with four points from two games the Rotterdam club, renowned for earning money collecting recycled paper a few decades ago, is collecting points rather than paper. Can Excelsior spring a surprise? With Heerenveen still recovering from earlier losses, they might just be able.
Go Ahead Eagles – FC Dordrecht: Dordrecht fly out to Deventer as the Eagles protect their nest
Once again, two teams meet that some years ago where on the brink of collapsing and playing in the lower ranks of Dutch professional football. But as years fly by wonderful things can happen. Go Ahead Eagles promoted last year, while FC Dordrecht did the same this year. So far, both have impressed with positive, offensive football, willing to make some risks. The motto: if we go down, go down with style.
After an entertaining first season, this season, Go Ahead is struggling. After their last minute loss against FC Groningen in the first match round, they did the same while visiting Excelsior Rotterdam last week; both matches ended with Go Ahead scoring two and the opponent three. Is it a lack of concentration or a lack of quality? Last week, it was goalkeeper Erik Cummins who scored the equalizer for Go Ahead, but they can’t count on his goalscoring capacities too much. F
C Dordrecht on the other hand are eager to grasp at least one point and they know they can. After the surprising victory over SC Heerenveen in the opening match of the season, they, as well, lost in the last minute in match two, against PEC Zwolle. They have impressed with offensive football, but need to focus more on their defensive skills as well. Comeback kid Josimar Lima, who is likely to lead the defence just like he used to, is not yet ready to play, challenging Dordrecht to find solutions for their defensive problems against Go Ahead players like Lesley de Sa and Alex Schalk.
In a match that is already important for the fight against relegation, Dordrecht could resume their surprising start, while for the home team, good play simply isn’t enough anymore. It’s the three points they need.
PEC Zwolle – Vitesse: Zwolle set to keep impeccable record versus Vitesse
Peter Bosz’s Vitesse are still chasing their first win in the Eredivisie this season, having followed up their opening day 4-1 defeat to Ajax with a 2-2 draw with Cambuur. The Arnhem side are now nine games without a win in the league. While they find themselves faced with a Zwolle team who have started well and have added suitably this summer, they will feel more confident with their opponents perhaps suffering from a hangover from their Europa League draw with Sparta Prague on Thursday.
The absence of the suspended Bart van Hintum presents a dilemma for Ron Jans, who could push Maikel van der Werff or Joost Broerse out to the left side of defence, where the chosen replacement will be tested by Bertrand Traore. However, Zwolle’s wingers Ryan Thomas and Jody Lukoki will present a serious threat to Wallace and Arnold Kruiswijk, respectively.
Vitesse’s new Chelsea-loanee Josh McEachran is available, but Bosz is expected (and encouraged) to continue with the strong trio of Marko Vejinovic, Kelvin Leerdam and Davy Propper. However, it is up front the Arnhem side find most troublesome as attacking midfielder Valeri Qazaishvili is expected to remain up front, flanked by Zakaria Labyad and Traore.
Feyenoord – FC Utrecht: Toornstra between Feyenoord and FC Utrecht
When Feyenoord met SC Heerenveen last week, transfer target Hakim Ziyech got a round of applause after a substitution. Two days later, he signed for FC Twente. This Sunday, the home crowd in De Kuip will once again see one of the club’s transfer targets playing for the opponent. FC Utrecht midfielder Jens Toornstra is close to signing for Feyenoord, but the deal is not done yet, meaning he’ll play the team he is likely to join next week. For Feyenoord, only three points will count. After the last minute win over ADO Den Haag and the draw against SC Heerenveen, criticism against the team is growing. The teams seem to lack creativity, it is boring and their playing leads to a symphony of missed chances.
A home win against FC Utrecht could turn things around, but it won’t be easy against a team that strengthened its squad in the summer. While losing the first game of the season 2-0 against PEC Zwolle, FC Utrecht secured the three points last week at home against Willem II, with a terrific performance by the 18-year-old debutant Rubin Rubio, an American striker. Still struggling with a high amount of injured players, coach Robbie Alflen will once again need to be creative with his options. But with an offensive midfield with Nacer Barazite, Jens Toornstra and Willem Janssen and the hot youngster Rubio in front of them, winning at least one point in De Kuip is not impossible.
NAC Breda – FC Twente: Count to Twente and hope everyone remains calm
‘Breda, you’ve got me on my knees’, hardly a song Eric Clapton would sing or Alfred Schreuder would reprise. NAC are looking out of sorts and haven’t impressed anyone yet, although the wonderfully named Kingsley Boateng showed his first signs of promise. With the loan deal for Stipe Perica, NAC will be hoping for a ‘Perica, you’ve got me on my knees’ from Twente, the Chelsea striker impressed at NAC last season but featured mostly off of the bench and is now likely to get a chance in the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, FC Twente’s spirits have been lifted by the acquisition of Hakim Ziyech and with the talented little playmaker looking to get the best out of Luc Castaignos, NAC will be wary of counterattacks. FC Twente have recorded three draws so far this season, two in the league and one in the Europa League and while some clubs crave for continuity FC Twente will be eager to make a shift. Having led nine minutes so far this season in all competitions and missing chance after chance, the club from Enschede will hope for a more composed approach against the boys of NAC.
ADO Den Haag – FC Groningen: Fraser not fazed by buoyed Van de Looi
FC Groningen haven’t lost an Eredivisie game for such a while that no-one hardly remembers who were the last team to beat the Groningen side. Apart from ADO Den Haag. Because they were that side. Ever since Henk Fraser took over, the boys in green and yellow have looked incredibly sturdy and with cult hero Mike van Duinen looking set to stay, who can touch the boys from the residential city?
With Tjaronn Chery ADO might have educated the danger that comes back to haunt them as the FC Groningen playmaker is in smashing form, having scored in both of his Eredivisie matches. And he is hardly the only one, as Michael de Leeuw came off the bench adding two goals to his season tally so far as well. ADO are still waiting for their new Chinese owners to bring in some more new players but with Timothy Derijck they have at least one stellar addition to their squad.
FC Groningen would like to make this a quick dinner takeaway as Danny Hoesen is still looking for his first goal and the club is set to extend their Eredivisie game winning streak to nine. It’s not the only Den Haag thing that Groningen are trying to grab these days, as Mimoun Mahi is set to move to FC Groningen this weekend as the Hagenees by birth will leave Sparta for the Green-Whites. But from the looks of it, the winger has to wait another year before he gets the chance to play Eredivisie football in his city of birth.
Ajax – PSV: Goliath vs Goliath, the two giants go toe to toe
The two most popular kids on the playground go toe-to-toe as the other kids are watching. Of the last 20 league titles, a total of 17 went to either PSV or Ajax, with only Feyenoord, AZ and most recently FC Twente spoiling their party. In Memphis Depay, PSV have the most exciting youngster in the league in their side as Lasse Schöne will try to show that he ripens fine as a whisky. More on Depay here, and more on Schöne here.
Apart from the two key men there is still plenty going on in this game. Most people will argue that the squad of PSV is the more talented one (nicely embodied by these predictions on the website of Simon Gleave), but with Ajax its experience in battling out for actual titles the composure is to be found with the Amsterdam club. So far, both teams hold the record for most consecutive titles as PSV have won the Eredivisie four times in a row twice as Ajax are now on a four title streak. Ajax will be looking to emphasize their own uniqueness by setting a first step to a fifth while PSV are all about breaking that sequence. With two games to go before the transfer window closes a 0-0 would actually be a good result, with both teams playing as dire as possible.
Daley Blind is a target for Manchester United as well as Memphis Depay, while Georginio Wijnaldum has caught the eye of several Serie A clubs, including Napoli and AC Milan. Ajax have hardly looked convincing so far, but have dispatched of two difficult opponents in Vitesse (4-1) and AZ (1-3), two games they lost last season. While buckling the trend seems a thing for the Amsterdammers this season, they will be looking to continue one against PSV, as they haven’t lost any of the last six Eredivisie home games against the Eindhoven club, winning five of them.
PSV manager Philip Cocu is one of Frank de Boer’s best mates, but friendship counts for nothing in football when the prizes are
handed out. While it is slightly too early in the season for prizes a win against Ajax would hardly be a burden for Cocu to carry and the re-invigorated PSV coach, who has had a rough period following surgery due to a tumor, will be looking to continue a magnificent start to the season as they beat Willem II (1-3) and NAC Breda (6-1) in previous games. Luuk de Jong is still looking for that first league goal in almost two years and if there’s ever a time to actually find it, the Eindhoven faithful would pick this weekend.