Scoreboard showing Feyenoord 0 Ajax 1 in 1968 - Eric Koch for Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Is Ajax vs Feyenoord Still A Big Rivarlry?

With Ajax facing Feyenoord this weekend at De Kuip in the Eredivisie in De Klassieker, we decided to look at the rivalry down the years, which has become more than just a game of football.

The reverse fixture brought horrible scenes. At the Johan Cruyff Arena, Ajax fans caused massive damage to their own club’s stadium after their team fell 3-0 behind.

It was one of many off-the-pitch incidents that have soured the club’s relationship even further than an on-the-field rivalry.

A tale of two cities

When it comes to Dutch football, there is no bigger rivalry than Ajax vs. Feyenoord. Some say it is one of the most fierce rivalries in the European game. That’s down to incidents on and off the pitch throughout the competitive game’s history.

However, the rivalry is not just because of football. It is more profound than just football, as clubs from the Netherlands’ two biggest cities with very different vibes go head-to-head.

Feyenoord are from Rotterdam, which is the country’s biggest port and is very much considered an industrial hub. Meanwhile, Amsterdam is considered more of a stylish, bustling metropolis full of tourists.

There is arguably a feeling that Feyenoord fans have an inferiority complex when it comes to their rivals because of the perceptions of the two cities rather than just the two teams’ performances on the pitch. Some would say there is a touch of truth in that feeling.

Who has been the more successful?

When it comes to honours and silverware, there is simply no comparison, as Ajax have won the Dutch top-flight title on 36 occasions, while Feyenoord has won just 16 titles in their history.

When it comes to European glory, the Amsterdammers also come on top, as Ajax have won the European Cup on four occasions, while Feyenoord has claimed the trophy just once in their history, back in 1970.

However, it must be acknowledged that the Rotterdam team lifted the trophy before a Johan Cruyff-inspired Ajax team won it in back-to-back campaigns from 1971 until 1973. It was a stellar period for Dutch clubs in the European game.

Feyenoord has the upper hand in European football’s secondary competition, the UEFA Cup/Europa League, as they have won two titles compared to Ajax’s one.

However, there is a caveat to that success, as the Rotterdammers have spent more time in the competition, whereas Ajax has more often than not been playing in the European Cup/Champions League.

Contrasting fortunes in recent seasons

Despite Ajax traditionally being more successful than their bitter rivals, Feyenoord could claim to have the better record in the last two seasons. In season 2022/23, the Rotterdammers won the Eredivisie title, while Ajax finished third place in the table.

Their title defence has not gone so well in season 2023/24, as they are currently in second place in the table and nine points adrift of runaway league leaders PSV Eindhoven. However, it has been a stellar campaign compared to their rivals.

Meanwhile, Ajax is enjoying something of a nightmare campaign. They currently languish in fifth place in the table, seven points from the European spots in the Eredivisie. It has been a season to forget for the club from the Dutch capital.

It should be noted before Feyenoord’s 2023 title, Ajax had won the Eredivisie title in four straight seasons. The 2023 title was only the second Dutch top-flight title that Feyenoord had won in 24 years, so even recent history slightly favours Ajax.

Who has had the best of recent meetings?

Traditionally, Ajax has won more De Klassieker games, winning 30 of the 48 meetings between the pair in all competitions. However, the recent history of the fixture slightly favours Feyenoord. The Rotterdam team has won two of the last four games against their bitter rivals.

However, both of those victories have come in Amsterdam. Ajax have an excellent recent record at De Kuip, as they are unbeaten in five visitors to the famous old stadium, having recorded an impressive four wins and a draw.

In fact, Feyenoord has beaten Ajax just once in the last nine meetings on home soil in all competitions. The home team doesn’t fare well against their rivals under the expectations of the partisan De Kuip crowd.

The weekend game is vital for both teams

The rivalry resumes on Sunday afternoon, and it is a big game for both teams. Both teams are desperate for points to reach their particular objectives in the Eredivisie this season.

The pair are also outsiders to reach those objectives. Feyenoord look unlikely to bridge the nine-point gap to PSV at the top of the table, while Ajax are outsiders to move back into the European spots in the Eredivisie.

A win this weekend would keep both teams’ objectives intact. Let’s hope we are talking about the on-field action this time after the game and not, like so many other De Klassiekers, controversy off the pitch.

Can Ajax boost their top-four with a victory over their bitter-rivals Feyenoord at De Kuip on Sunday?