Eredivisie week 7 preview: a guide to love, loss and Marnix Kolder
N.B. Go Ahead Eagles drew 0-0 at home to Cambuur last night.
‘’We created more chances against Barcelona than we did create against PEC Zwolle,’’ stated Ajax coach Frank de Boer following his team’s heavy yet expected 4-0 loss at Camp Nou, on Wednesday. In many ways his words are a perfect example of how the Eredivisie is one of the few leagues in Europe that still contains some of that old school football romance.
Take Stefano Denswil, the Ajax youngster touted as the successor to Toby Alderweireld, who left Amsterdam for Atletico Madrid in the summer. Denswil played against second division club Telstar a few weeks ago, charged with keeping their striker Daryl van Mieghem from scoring. This week he played against Lionel Messi, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar. Talk of deep ends and the youngster being thrown into them just doesn’t feel sufficient to convey the chasm between the two assignments. But as Frank de Boer furthermore stated, rather than dreaming about unlikely glory in Catalonia, his team’s must focus on what’s coming this weekend: PSV. After last weeks exciting topper between FC Twente and PSV it’s Ajax’ turn to take on the team that started the season as title contenders but have looked rather flawed, error prone and glitchy in recent weeks.
Although both teams lost in Europe this week, PSV’s 0-2 defeat to PFK Ludogorets was obviously a bigger blow than the 4-0 drubbing suffered by Ajax away to Barcelona. Most of the PSV squad were probably unaware of Ludogorets’ existance before their Europa League draw. For those unacquainted with Bulgarian football, the team’s name sounds more like some vague eastern-European vodka. But the team from Eindhoven lost and many are wondering what will happen to Dutch club football should their misadventures on the continent continue.
For now though it’s time to refocus once more on matters closer to home and the weekend ahead. Cambuur Leeuwarden and Go Ahead Eagles, the two promoted sides, kick off the next round of games in the Eredivisie this evening. Having surprised many by bagging a 2-0 win against Heracles Almelo Cambuur find themselves in the more than comfortable position of 8th place in the league. With doubts lingering over the team’s survival chances at the beginning of the season, and such pessimism only encouraged by Cambuur not scoring a single goal in the first two round, the upstarts from Leeuwarden stunned their critics with an incredible 4-1 win against FC Groningen on August 17th. A week later they recorded an even more surprising result with a 0-0 against PSV, which led many to suggest that Cambuur may now be able to settle into their stride for the rest of the season without too many worries over relegation. Go Ahead Eagles also have their own little sideline in football romance going on at the moment, in the shape of Marnix Kolder.
Kolder, who many thought of as a less than mediocre striker, has managed to bag 4 goals in 6 games and finds himself in a shared third place on the Eredivisie topscorer sheet. Tonight’s kickoff is sure to offer up an interesting opportunity for the two plucky promoted sides to show that they can take on allcomers having found their rhythmn in the top division.
On Saturday, Heracles Almelo face FC Twente with the latter being the obvious favourites to take all three points. After all, Heracles have started the season like they always do, uninspired and washed-out, having lost to Cambuur Leeuwarden in the two team’s aforementioned match up last week. With FC Twente’s first team likely to feature former Arsenal youngster Kyle Ebecilio, Felipe Gutiérrez and talented Mexican debutant Tecatito Corona, it’s more than clear where the derby day momentum lies in the east.
Without doubt the most turbulent game of the season was last week’s northern derby between SC Heerenveen and FC Groningen which bubbled over with nine yellow cards, three red cards and 6 goals. With SC Heerenveen swiping victory away from them, FC Groningen will be looking to avenge their honour this weekend when they face RKC Waalwijk. The latter side could well be looking to do the same after they lost against Jan Wouters’ FC Utrecht last weekend 2-1. Utrecht looked weak and fearful when RKC defender Amieux curled a free kick past Jeroen Verhoeven – who was probably longing for a slice pizza rather than a heroic block – and the Domstedelingen can thank some higher power that RKC weren’t able to score an equalizer in the end.
RKC fans can cite one particular positive from their unsightly defeat however thanks to another promising appearance from their young forward Joachim. The ‘successor’ of Teddy Chevalier once looked like a striker that didn’t particularly belong in the Eredivisie, with a number of less than charitable pundits questioning why he even bothered trying to play football in the first place, but so far this season he has been able to show the occasional flash of quality from time to time.
ADO Den Haag were supposed to be playing against Vitesse Arnhem last weekend before the club’s horrendous pitch and a localised moonsoon over Den Haag forced referee Kevin Blom to call the game off. This weekend they face off NEC in what is probably the least exciting game of the the weekend, and not just because of the potential conditions. With both clubs currently sitting in the bottom two of the league (both with 3 points out of 6 games) they each desperately need three points, but it’s doubtful whether or not they have it in them to make such a breakthrough.
On Sunday, Vitesse and PEC Zwolle clash in the early kick off in a game that could yet offer something exciting to fans and neutrals alike. PEC Zwolle are currently living through their own fairytale start to the season, as they sit atop the Eredivisie after six matches. Meanwhile Vitesse are living in a deja-vu with striker and troublemaker Jonathan Reis being kicked out of the first team by coach Peter Bosz. This breakdown in relations is reminiscant of the problems that arose for the player during his time at PSV due to drug abuse and drunk driving.
Last weekend’s defeat against Ajax may well send PEC Zwolle back down to earth and into the reality of their situation, but since they never seemed to have the instincts of a title contender, their descent from the top of the league shouldn’t faze them too much. Playing poorly and still winning – like the side from Amsterdam did against them last week – is something that PEC are still incapable of doing (and can someone please tell Fred Benson that strikers need to score goals?) but this remains a match to look forward to. PEC’s midfield is currently one of the best in the league and their South-African midfield maestro Mokotjo is well worth keeping an eye out for.
Feyenoord also face FC Utrecht on Sunday in a game that may offer more of an opportunity to figure out what’s wrong with them than rather than an entertaining spectacle. Are the side from Rotterdam struggling to cope mentally or is the team just not as good as it once was? With the quality of players in their ranks still fairly consistant, it could well be more of a combination of insecurity, media hype and Louis van Gaal. Anyway, Feyenoord need this win more than anything. Unfortunately ‘new’ signing Otman Bakkal isn’t part of this weekends squad, with all eyes are on Jean-Paul Boëtius who returned last week after 6 months of injury. This can only be good new for the team as he remains – without doubt – one of the best wingers in the league and a player able to make almost anything on the pitch look so easy. Returning from such a long lay-off however, FC Utrecht may come too soon for Boëtius to remind the Erevidisie of his abilities on and off the ball.
Having won their opening Europa League group game 0-1 away against Maccabi Haifa Tel-Aviv, AZ will be looking the turn the victory into a trend when they face NAC Breda. With 10 points and currently sitting pretty in a more than comfortable 5th place in the league – just three points behind PEC Zwolle – AZ are a dark horse to keep in mind for this season’s title. No, really. With a defence that looks solid and, unlike last season, USA international striker Aron Johannsson proving to be the perfect successor to Josy Altidore, now at Sunderland, and not to mention Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson scoring a perfect hattrick for Iceland last week before scoring the only goal in the Europa League against Maccabi Haifa Tel-Aviv, AZ are showing some real promise. However, with NAC managing to grab a 1-5 away win against an incredibly weak Roda JC last week, AZ may have to tread carefully this weekend. It’s going to be fun in a battle between father Nebosja Gudelj (NAC manager) against son Nemanja (midfielder of AZ).
A very big thank you to Greg Johnson for sub-editing the article and to ‘The False Nine’ for loaning him out. Apart from doing wonderful things with the boys of The False Nine, Greg writes for established media such as FourFourTwo and Bleacher Report UK. Both the blog and Greg are well worth a follow.