It’s getting clearer and clearer now – this season of the Eredivisie is a two horse race between Feyenoord and Ajax, as both teams are six points clear off their closest contenders. Let’s look at another weekend of Dutch football as we keep up with the competition…
Untraditionally, let’s begin at Feyenoord’s game. Coming off of a dramatic draw against Utrecht, the league leaders welcomed their city rivals Sparta at home. Let’s just say that saying their derby against Der Kaastelheren wasn’t much of a drama would be an understatement. Goals by Vilhena and Toornstra meant that the hosts had a nice 2-0 lead before the restart. After that, the real storm begin. Jorgensen, who now sits alone atop the scorers table with 11 goals, scored a brace to double the lead. Botteghin added number five, and eventhough Verhaar pulled one back for Alex Pastoor’s team, Eljero Elia closed the tab at 6-1 in the 92nd minute. Feyenoord’s key to success was effectivity. As far as shots on goal are concerned, the hosts lead by only one (8-7). But Bradley Jones made six important saves, while Roy Kortsmit only prevented a goal twice.
As PSV, sitting third behind the duo of Ajax and Feyenoord, visited relegation candidates Roda, everyone expected another win from last year’s champions. PSV, however, returned to drawing ways in an uneventful 0-0 match. Safe to say, the team from Eindhoven controlled the match with 74 percent possession, but only 4 of their 16 shots went between the posts, and none of them were converted to goals. With another draw in a game where they were clear favorites, PSV are distancing themselves from the top of the table, as they are now full six points behind. Case in point in my “two horse race” argument…
Willem II welcomed Twente, who are still contenders for European competition spots despite not winning any of their last five games. This time, not even Enes Unal’s goalscoring form could help the team who battled Willem II to a 0-0 draw. It was a closely contested match, but neither of the teams were able to create many clear cut chances. Both Willem II and Twente produced 13 shots, but only 2 of them were on goal for the hosts, compared to not much better 3 for the visitors. Twente will definitely have to work harder as they are only a single point clear off 8th Vitesse and further two off Heracles, who are hungry for their spot.
Seventh Utrecht were close to a victory against Feyenoord last time around, but the league leaders escaped with a point. This time, they allowed no shenanigans, beating ADO Den haag 2-0 thanks to goals from Barazite and Haller after a fairly close match. Interesting to point out are two players who continued their form, for better or for worse. Sebastian Haller is at 8 goals (tied with Dolberg, Klaassen and Weghorst) after scoring three in his last two games. On the other side of the coin is Tom Beugelsdijk, who scored an own goal against PSV and now got himself sent off against Utrecht.
After a loss to Ajax, Heerenveen wanted to bounce back against Go Ahead Eagles, and they did just that. Eventhough things didn’t look bright after Maatsen’s goal just seven minutes in, the visitors equalised thirteen minutes later through Ghoochannejhad. The very same player struck again just seven minutes later, and Kobayashi added a cushion just before the end of the first half. 1-3 was the half time score that went unchanged until the final whistle. Productivity was once again the name of the game – Eagles produced 19 shots compared to Heerenveen’s 13, but only three shots were on target on each side. While Erwin Mulder made two saves, veteran Theo Zwarthoed pretty much only touched the ball when he was fishing it out of his own net.
We started with goals galore in Rotterdam and we will finish on the very same note, as Excelsior welcomed AZ. The visitors were riding a high tide after smashing Heracles 5-1 last weekend, but their hunger for goals was very much matched this time, even to the extend that AZ were almost all the time under pressure to equalise. Elbers’ goal in the 9th minute was answered within two minutes by Muhren. Nigel Hasselbaink gave his team the lead again from the spot, but Tankovic responded in the 34th minute to set the half time score at 2-2. Excelsior lead for the third time since the 65th minute, but only 11 minutes later Stijn Wuytens, the Belgian centerback, set the final score – 3-3. Same as Heerenveen, Excelsior were only able to produce 3 shots on goal, but used all of them to get on the scoresheet. AZ, despite having the ball 66 percent of the time and shooting much more (18 shots to Excelsior’s 8), were able to send only 5 of their 18 shots between the posts, hence returned to drawing again after one promising win.
Next week, Alkmaar and Feyenoor will meet in a battle of the two teams that gave us the highest scoring games this weekend. It would be nice if AZ scored a couple goals again and cost Feyenoord some points, wouldn’t it? In other matchups, PSV welcome another relegation candidate, Go Ahead Eagles, who find themselves very last again. Heerenveen will battle Excelsior, while Utrecht will have to defend their Europa League play-off spot against direct contender Heracles. Twente, as we all know, will welcome our very own Ajax. Join us again next week as we keep up with the competition!