NETHERLANDS: Eredivisie Review – Week 1


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WEEK 1 – 2nd-4th August 2013

Ajax - Roda JC Kerkrade


Friday night and champions Ajax started the crusade on the hunt for their fourth successive title with a 3-0 victory over relegation contenders Roda JC at the Amsterdam ArenA, even though they did have quite a bit of luck.

In an exciting beginning to the game, Ajax burst out the blocks much to delight of the Amsterdam crowd, and Frank de Boer’s side were nearly a goal ahead inside the first seven minutes. Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen crashed a free-kick on the edge of the box onto the crossbar of Filip Kurto’s goal, but a few minutes after that, the hosts were ahead.

Another free-kick, but this time Eriksen whipped the ball in from the left-hand side that deceived everyone in the box. Kurto used his reflexes to divert the ball with his foot, but the ball rebounded off full-back Ricardo Van Rhijn’s shins and into the goal. An unfortunate goal for Roda to concede.

Ajax dominated and captain Siem de Jong doubled the lead on 31 minutes. Again, the Dane Eriksen was involved, he placed an ideal through ball with found De Jong inside the box, who kept his composure to coolly slot the ball home.

With the trio of De Jong, Viktor Fischer and debutant Bojan as Ajax’s attacking threat, Roda failed to find much of the ball out of their own half and Ajax should have put the game to bed. Bojan had a genuine claim for a spotkick at the start of the second-half when he found his way into the box only to be clearly fouled by Ard van Peppen, but the referee waved away his appeals.

On the hour mark, as Ajax tired, Roda began to see a lot more of the ball and were close to getting back into it when winger Guus Hupperts placed a shot onto the post.

On 70 minutes, Daley Blind was caught pulling on Krisztián Németh’s shirt and referee Danny Makkelie pointed to the spot. The away supporters were on their feet in delight but Wiljan Pluim blazed the resulting kick over Kenneth Vermeer’s crossbar. It is extraordinary that Pluim’s effort is now the fifth consecutive penalty that has been missed by opponents of Ajax.

The icing on the cake was on 83 minutes when Ajax cemented the points with their third goal. The new number 7 for the Amsterdammers, Viktor Fischer with a deft chip after Lasse Schone had forced Kurto into yet another save and De Jong hit the post with the rebound.

Ajax win and sit top of the league, while Roda JC linger at the bottom and regret the penalty miss that could have possibly changed the scoreline.


The Cocu Revolution made a great start to their title challenge with a 3-2 away victory over ADO Den Haag. PSV took a 3-0 lead thanks to Georginio Wijnaldum, a Danny Holla own goal and Jetro Willems within the opening 35 minutes. However Holla pulled one back on the stroke of half-time for the home side and young striker Mike Van Duinen reduced the deficit deep into injury time.

Nineteen-year-old forward Jurgen Locadia had an excellent chance to score in the opening minute but was thwarted by goalkeeper Gino Coutinho. PSV ‘keeper Jeroen Zoet was called into action for the first time in the 11th minute as he palmed away a long-range effort from Jerson Cabral.

A minute later and the visitors took the lead, new signing Stijn Schaars played in Wijnaldum and the captain slotted home at the far post.

Wijnaldum came very close to doubling the lead on 17 minutes with young prodigy Memphis Depay setting up Wijnaldum, he first touch was sublime, but his shot was subpar as the ball crept agonisingly wide of the post.

ADO had their chances too, as Cabral fired an effort on target but had his shot nodded away by Jeffrey Bruma.

PSV extended their lead in the 27th minute through an unlucky own goal by Holla. The defender tried to clear a long ball from Wijnaldum, but his looping header beat Coutinho.

Cocu’s young side, with five teenagers in the starting eleven, looked to have settled the match six minutes later. Left-back Willems wrong footed three defenders before blasting home.

PSV did not let up, and a minute later, looked for a fourth and the left-wing menace Depay looked likely to score, as he cut into the box and rounded two defenders but he sent his shot wide.

PSV sat back to protect the third goal lead but as it invited ADO on to the attack, they found a goal before half-time. Danny Holla making amends for his mistake by firing Ninos Gouriye’s dangerous cross past Zoet.

Diciating the tempo, PSV slowed down the pace of the game, with the home side enjoying the bulk of possession. Chances went begging when Wijnaldum headed Zakaria Bakkali’s free-kick over the bar and Locadia just could not connect with Depay´s cross. While ADO striker Van Duinen headed well wide over the bar in the 68th minute.

Van Duinen handed Den Haag a lifeline in second-half stoppage time, capitalising on a defensive slip but PSV held on to take all three points.

NEC - FC Groningen


FC Groningen also made a winning start to their campaign defeating NEC by four goals to one at the Goffertstadion on Saturday evening, a margin of goals that makes them top the table as of time of writing.

Both NEC and Groningen were quite active this summer in the transfer market, capturing six new players. As Groningen signed known Eredivisie experience in Tjaronn Chery, Eric Botteghin and Nick van der Velden, NEC mostly signed players without Dutch top flight familiarity.

It was obvious last season that NEC could use some fresh blood in as coach Alex Pastoor stated at the start of the campaign that him aim was to guide the team the Europa League playoffs but in the last twelve games were only four points were collected, three of them against the relegated Willem II.

Groningen came flying out of the blocks and one of the new boys, Chery scored the opening goal after just ten minutes of play. Kalle Johnson, last season’s NEC third choice goalkeeper, was responsible for the goal. Filip Kostic’s shot from the edge of the area, changed direction, but the weak save from Johnson led Chery to grab his first goal for the club on his debut.

It was 2-0 on 27 minutes and again Chery was involved. He placed a through ball to Andraz Kirm and the Slovenian outwitted Johnson to double the lead.

The two goal advantage put the visitors in the driving seat with Navarone Foor replying for the hosts before the half-time whistle.

Howver, second-half strikes from David Texeira, on 54 minutes and a late Richairo Zivkovic goal put the result beyond doubt.


After losing top stars, Nader Chadli and Leroy Fer, FC Twente looked toothless and clueless in their opener against a RKC Waalwijk side which they should be quite capable of defeating. Instead it was a poor game and neither side could find a goal.

Even RKC has made some major changes in their playing staff, coach Erwin Koeman had to say goodbye to Jeroen Zoet, Cuco Martina, Henrico Drost, Guy Ramos and Ard van Peppen. Hardly any replacements of the calibre of the players that have departed have came in, and even after the Florian Jozefzoon’s transfer to PSV, there was not much money for new players.

The hosts did have their chances to win the match, especially through Willem Janssen and Luc Castaignos but the new RKC goalkeeper Jan Seda, had an excellent game and kept their best efforts out.


Heerenveen and AZ shared six goals in a high tempo match at a packed Abe Lenstra Stadion. Marco van Basten’s side showed that the administrative problems at the club have no impact on the performance on the field.

AZ had the best chance inside the first ten minutes when Swedish midfielder Viktor Elm found himself unmarked in the area and fired from close range straight at his compatriot Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

Heerenveen looked a different side to last year, with the high pressure and tenacity winning balls back deep into the opposition half. They grabbed the lead after 22 minutes when a penalty was awarded after a handball from Jan Wuytens inside the box. Icelandic hot shot Alfred Finnbogason made no mistake with the spot-kick, powering the shot into the right corner past Esteban Alvarado.

AZ were close to equalising minutes later but Nemanja Gudelj’s header from a corner clipped the crossbar and went over.

The visitors did grab the leveller, five minutes after the internal, with a tremendous solo effort from right-back Mattias Johansson. The Swede surged up the pitch with the ball stuck to his feet, played a lovely one-two inside the area with Aron Jóhannsson, and smashed it home.

The teams were only level pegging for just less than four minutes as Finnbogason clinched his second of the game. It was a poacher’s goal by the Iceland international, tapping home from a save from a lashing shot from Pele van Anholt.

Two minutes later, Van Anholt also got on the scoresheet as Heerenveen extended their lead to 3-1. The defender, who loves to get forward, arrived into the box as Finnbogason was doing some great play on the left of the area. The Icelandic squared the ball for Van Anholt to side-foot home with a neat finish.

The goals quietened down but the action did not, the hosts were reduced to ten-men after on-loan defender Mitchell Dijks was shown his marching orders for a strong but late challenge on Steven Berghuis. Luckily the striker was not seriously injured and continued the match.

AZ were given a chance to get back into the game when Rajiv van La Parra was deemed to have handle the ball in the area. The newly stated American international Jóhannsson converted perfectly hitting the inside of the left post on the way in.

The scoring had not been completed with the Van Basten’s boys when Van La Parra hit a superb curling effort from just outside the area to complete a 4-2 victory for Heerenveen.


SC Cambuur - NAC Breda


Sunday’s games kicked off with one of the Eredivisie new boys as Cambuur stepped into the Dutch top flight for the first time for thirteen years, and were roared on by a lively crowd inside the Cambuur Stadion. After an even first-half, the home side came out the better side, in according to the pundits, a battle of the two relegation contenders.

Dwight Lodeweges will be proud of his side’s performance and how they held their own against NAC Breda. None of the eleven players selected have scored at the highest level. Jody Lukoki, on loan from champions Ajax, appeared as a half-time substitute and looked the most likely to make things happen, but the goal did not materialise.


After an embarrassing exit from the Europa League in midweek against Luxembourgian side FC Differdange 03, FC Utrecht had to shrug the disappointment off and pull their socks up to entertain the newly promoted Go Ahead Eagles.

On a baking hot day in Utrecht, Jan Wouters side did look to have put the defeat behind them as they dominated the first-half proceedings and found a breakthrough in the 15th minute. Australian midfielder Tommy Oar crossed in from a right-wing free-kick and Dave Bulthuis rose above everyone to nod his team ahead.

Utrecht pressed for a second as Japanese playmaker Yoshiaki Takagi was pulling the strings for Jens Toornstra and Jacob Mulenga but Go Ahead keeper Eloy Room kept the danger men at bay.

The game became a tale of two halves with the new boys dominating the second half and drew level within a minute of the restart. Xander Houtkoop, who scored sixteen goals last year in Eerste Divisie, bursted forward down the left and smashed the finish past Robbin Ruiter.

The disgruntled home crowd got on their teams’ back as Go Ahead smelt blood and went for the kill. Unfortunately the goal never arrived for them and it was mainly due to the fact Ruiter was in the Utrecht goal. Ruiter was pulling out stops from Marnix Kolder, Jarchinio Antonia and Houtkoop.

The draw look to be on the cards until we reached added time at the end of the ninety. Jop van der Linden struck the post with an excellent free-kick two minutes into stoppage time.

The boos rang out at full-time inside the Stadion Galgenwaard, Wouters will be beginning to feel the pressure even inside the opening game of the season.

Vitesse - Heracles Almelo


New Vitesse coach Peter Bosz faced his old side Heracles Almelo and although he lost his two major stars in Wilfried Bony and Marco van Ginkel in the summer, his side performed well and gained a great 3-1 victory.

In a lovely sign of respect, the away displayed the banner shown below to appreciate what Bosz and his assistant Hendrie Kruzen had done for Heracles under their leadership.

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Vitesse debutant Kelvin Leerdam, on his first start for the club since his move from Feyenoord, grabbed the lead for his new side on 26 minutes when he deflected Theo Janssen’s shot past Remko Pasveer in the Heracles goal.

The lead was doubled four minutes later as the tricky Georgian left-winger Valeri Kazaishvili cut inside and surged forward, before floating over a cross towards forward Marcus Pedersen. The Norwegian returning to the club after a loan spell at Danish side Odense, guided the ball into the net.

After the interval, Bosz’s side continued to control the match, but they had to wait until ten minutes remaining to extend the lead further. Ecuadorian wide man Renato Ibarra sprinted into the area before firing a rocket for the third.

Vitesse should have had a fourth on 84 minutes but substitute striker Mike Havenaar shockingly misfired and the empty goal, stayed empty as the ball ballooned over the crossbar.

Heading into stoppage time, Heracles got a consolation, with debutant Matthew Amoah taking full advantage of Leerdam’s misplaced back pass.

An excepted win for Vitesse and striker Pedersen will look to provide the goals to fire them up the league as a replacement for last year’s league top scorer Bony.

PEC Zwolle - Feyenoord


Ron Jans made a dream start to the season on his return to Zwolle clinching a deserved 2-1 win over Ronald Koeman’s Feyenoord. His side turned in a nightmare performance and two Zwolle players especially came back to haunt Koeman.

Zwolle finished in a very creditable 11th place in their first year back in the top flight of Dutch football last year and their results in pre-season have been excellent. Former Heerenveen boss Jans has led his new club to five friendly victories out of five and that includes a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen and a 5-1 hammering of Ross County last time.

Striker Fred Benson and Kamohelo Mokotjo, the latter signed on a free from Feyenoord this summer, were a thorn in the side to Stefan De Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi in the centre of the Rotterdam defence.

The IJsseldelta Stadion crowd were loud throughout but they nearly broke the decibel record in Zwolle on 66 minutes. Highly-rated 20-year-old midfielder Jesper Drost delivered a perfect cross for Mateusz Klich to head past Erwin Mulder to give Zwolle the lead and send the spectators into rapture.

It was what Zwolle deserved, but Feyenoord equalised five minutes later, which displayed some poor defending by the home side. Defender De Vrij was all alone of the edge of the area and volleyed a shot towards goal, it was going wide so Ruben Schaken nodded it on target into the goal to level the game up.

Zwolle kept their heads up and substitute Guyon Fernandez, on-loan from Feyenoord, popped up with a goal deep into injury time to send his parent club away with nothing.

Koeman has two problems, clearly visible after the first ninety minutes of the campaign. His team is too reliant on Italian target man Graziano Pelle (who had a poor game today), and Feyenoord are already three points behind title rivals Ajax and PSV after just one round of matches. Feyenoord finished in third place last time and it’s now 14 years since they last won the Eredivisie title, so they better improve quickly or their fans could be feeling the disappointment for a 15th year in a row.


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