Eredivisie week 1: Five things we haven’t learned this week

Can PSV players concentrate for 90 minutes? 

A problem with this PSV team that new coach Phillip Cocu has already pinpointed is his side’s inability to maintain their concentration and intensity throughout an entire match.

PSVIt seems, though, that the former PSV and Barcelona defender has had no such luck thus far in his time in charge of the Eindhoven giants. The title challengers found themselves 3-0 up within 33 minutes in their match against ADO Den Haag on Saturday and looked to be sailing to a comfortable three points. But they soon let things slip, conceding on the stroke of half-time before a flat second-half performance ended with a horrendous attempted clearance from Jeffrey Bruma which allowed Mike van Duinen to pounce and reduce the deficit to just one goal.

Fortunately for PSV, though, that goal came in injury time and ADO couldn’t make that final push to net the equaliser. However, this sloppiness and inability to see out what should have been a comfortable victory is a cause for concern for Cocu. With Ajax already looking in fine form and hoping to secure a fourth straight league title, PSV must ensure they can hold onto any advantage and play with the same intensity throughout an entire match, regardless of the opponent.

Are Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Jan Wuytens are the answer to AZ’s defensive troubles?

AZ’s side had a terrible 2012-13 campaign in terms of their league performances as they loomed dangerously close to the relegation playoff places. A big reason for this decline was their defence, which leaked 54 goals in 34 Eredivisie matches, a huge increase on the 35 they conceded the previous season.

This term, however, AZ are looking to get back into the top five of the Dutch league and in order to bolster that back line, they have recruited Jeffrey Gouweleeuw from Heerenveen and Jan Wuytens from Utrecht. The two centre-backs are very talented defenders, for sure, but it remains to be seen if they will complement each other in the way coach Gertjan Verbeek wants them to.

They were remarkably suspect in Saturday night’s game against Heerenveen and could do nothing to prevent Marco van Basten’s side smashing four past goalkeeper Esteban, despite the Frisians going down to ten men with 20 minutes remaining. A massive part of it seemed to be down to a lack of communication, hence their inability to pick up opponents inside the box or close them down around it. It was these issues which lead to an easy tap-in for Alfred Finnbogason and a sweet 20-yard goal from Rajiv van La Parra.

Despite the losses of last term’s stars Jozy Altidore and Adam Maher, the general consensus is that this is a very bright and talented AZ team which could compete for a European place, but a lot of it depends on the partnership of Gouweleeuw and Wuytens developing. For the sake of the Alkmaar faithful, it needs to blossom quickly!

How are SC Cambuur possibly going to score a single goal in Eredivisie?

The newly-promoted side were incredibly tame in their opening game of the season against NAC Breda. In their six attempts on goal in the 90 minutes, they failed to register a single shot on target. Nebojsa Gudelj’s men, on the other hand, had 11 shots and had several opportunities to take the lead.

The home side, though, never looked like scoring throughout the match. The only time they even looked like threatening the Breda team’s goal was when half-time subsitiute Jody Lukoki got on the ball and tore down the left wing, making good use of his speed. However, when the young winger on loan from Ajax got far upfield, he found passing and crossing options fairly limited and attacks generally came to an abrupt end.

With such a toothless attack, it’s hard to see where their goals are going to come from this season, never mind the points.

What are Feyenoord going to do without Graziano Pelle?

Pelle wasn't happy all the time last season either.

Pelle wasn’t happy all the time last season either.

It wasn’t one of Graziano Pelle’s finest games when Feyenoord played PEC Zwolle. Kept in check by Maikel van der Werff and Joost Broerse and with former Feyenoord man Mokotjo cutting off the supply the Italian was craving for (non-drug related), Pelle hardly had a touch and the fact that he only had one shot during the whole game tells plenty. Instead of capitalizing on the space given in other areas of the field, Feyenoord looked toothless, timid and after going 1-0 behind, they were actually lucky to pull one back through a Ruben Schaken header, especially since Schaken scoring from a header is as rare as Stefan de Vrij giving an assist. The latter happened too on this occasion.

In the end, it wasn’t enough to bring home a point as Guyon Fernandez, a Feyenoord loanee, scored the winner(2-1) for PEC Zwolle in injury time. It was a deserved victory and from the looks of it, all you have to do to beat Feyenoord is keep Pelle in check. Last season, Pelle scored 27 goals and laid on 6 assists, meaning he was directly involved in more than half of Feyenoord’s Eredivisie goals (63). Imagine if more teams succeed in that or even worse, imagine the striker being injured? Feyenoord don’t seem to have
a plan B at the moment and it’s something they desperately need to think about if they are to mount
any type of title challenge.

Is Genero Zeefuik fit?

Last season, one of the main talking points in the early months of the season was FC Groningen striker Genero Zeefuik and that enormous buttox of his. Zeefuik (1.80m) was rumoured to weigh over 90 kilos, not really your average weight for a player of that size. Apart from that, he looked sluggish and in the end, was demoted to the reserves and put on a special diet in order to lose weight. In the 13/14 pre-season, he was rumoured to be fitter, sharper, more eager, but when the first Eredivisie game of the season came near, he was once again dubbed not fit enough.

Uruguayan David Texeira took up the reigns in the striker position and he capped a decent display with an excellent goal. To top things off, 16 year old striker Richairo Zivkovic crowned his sub performance with a goal too, gifting FC Groningen the no. 1 position in the league through their 1-4 win over NEC. With that, he became the youngest FC Groningen goalscorer ever, taking the record of one Arjen Robben. With both other strikers in the FC Groningen squad already on one goal and Genero Zeefuik nowhere to be seen for now, one question lingers and it will continue to linger if the two keep impressing throughout the upcoming weeks as well: Is Genero Zeefuik fit enough to be an Eredivisie striker?

By Peter McVitie and Michiel Jongsma, a special thank you to Pete Sharland for the final edit.

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