Over in Holland, the Dutch Eredivisie title race is really starting to hot up after the winter break and the next week of fixtures could be key in deciphering this year’s winners.
With Ajax, Vitesse, FC Twente and Feyenoord all going strong, we could be in for a roller-coaster ride between now and May’s conclusion. All four are in action twice over the next week, by this time next week we may have a much clearer indication of where the trophy is heading.
Despite featuring highly in the final standings over recent years, Vitesse have never won Holland’s biggest crown.
In fact, should they finish the season in their current position (2nd) then it will signal their best season since 1915 – which tells you just how well Peter Bosz is doing with the club. They finished 4th last season and despite the loss of Eredivisie’s top scorer, Wilfried Bony, the team continue to impress with workmanlike performances.
Back-to-back draws prevented them from overtaking Ajax in poll position but Vitesse remain in a very good situation. With games on Tuesday and Friday, they have two opportunities to pile the pressure on the Amsterdam giants who don’t take to the pitch until Thursday and Sunday.
Tuesday’s match against AZ could be difficult but with home advantage, Arnhem fans will be confident of recording a first win in three. Meanwhile, Friday’s encounter with bottom placed Den Haag, which is also at the Gelredome, should be a guaranteed three points. They boast the league’s longest current unbeaten sequence, which extends back to October 6th, and should fear nobody.
Vitesse are the first Dutch club to be acquired by a foreign owner; perhaps the Russian’s influence is about to change the landscape of Dutch football for ever.
Ajax Set For Fourth Consecutive Title
Since Frank de Boer became head coach, the Dutch legend has led the club to three back-to-back Eredivisie titles; Ajax are in poll position to make that four.
Holland’s most successful club have claimed an impressive 44 points from 21 games and are on course to surpass the 70 point mark for a 5th straight season. Should Ajax perform to their optimum level, then anything the other clubs do will become irrelevant. The Amsterdam side are the best team in the country and will only lose the title if they happily surrender it.
Sunday’s draw signalled Ajax’s first dropped points in nine games and de Boer will insist his side get back to winning ways when they host Groningen on Thursday. By then, they may be second but you would expect them to enter the weekend back on top.
Sunday’s trip to Zwolle (who are on the back of two straight wins) may ne a little more problematic, but you’d still expect Ajax to pass the test.
As well as boasting the most talented squad, Ajax’s previous experience could hold the key to deciding this year’s title-race. Only de Boer’s players know what it takes to win this league and, whilst those around them may crumble under the pressure, they will continue to race towards the finish line with confidence.
Ajax are clear favourites (Bet365 8/15) to win the title and that alone paints a pretty vivid picture. Only a major upset will prevent de Boer from claiming a fourth successive title.
Feyenoord and FC Twente Still In The Hunt For Eredivisie Glory
Under Steve McLaren, FC Twente won their first Eredivisie title in 2010 (the last team other than Ajax to do so) and still hold genuine hope of ending this campaign as champions.
Current coach Michel Jansen has led the side to third and if they can win their game in hand then FC Twente will be just one point behind leaders Ajax. An unbeaten run of nine matches means spirits around De Grolsch Veste are very high and if they can claim the maximum six points on offer this week then they’ll have to be considered genuine contenders.
Trips to Heerenveen (5th) and PSV (7th) signals an extremely difficult week for Twente, which could either make or break their campaign. By this time next week we will know whether a serious title challenge is within their grasp.
Meanwhile Feyenoord are outsiders for the championship (12/1 with Bet 365) but Ronald Koeman’s men aren’t out of it just yet.
The Rotterdam giants have not lifted the Eredivisie trophy since 1999 and are probably more concerned with securing Champions League football. Nevertheless, they won’t give up until the fat lady is singing.
They are away to 16th placed Roda on Tuesday before hosting 17th placed NEC on Saturday; it should be a guaranteed 6 points but you can never tell with Koemen’s men. It is a great opportunity to close the gap though.
Feyenoord’s win ratio is as good as any other club but they do tend to lose where their rivals would draw and that could be their downfall. They are capable of putting a sequence of wins together, but a turning over a seven point deficit is a tough ask – especially with 13 matches left.
This could be a pivotal week in the Eredivisie season. Right now, you’d have to fancy Ajax. But that could all change by Sunday night. Let the drama begin.