De Graafschap v Jong AZ
This Friday there is a full round of Eerste Divisie football and the first match to discuss is an interesting one, between De Graafschap and the AZ academy team. De Graafschap have had a shocking start to the season. In preseason, they were dubbed one of the outsiders for direct promotion, but after eight rounds they are at the bottom of the league. Manager Adrie Poldervaart is under huge pressure and in the international break, the club held crisis talks with the manager to see if there is a base to keep working together.
According to several sources, it was a constructive conversation so Poldervaart is still there, but the hopes around De Graafschap aren’t too high. On the other hand, Jong AZ has had a good start to the season, as they are sitting in mid-table. They lost the last two outings, but that was against promotion favourites PEC Zwolle and Willem II and they gave both newcomers in the second tier a proper run for their money.
AZ’s first team will be playing on Saturday, so any players that are projected to feature in that game won’t make the trip to Doetinchem, but the first team saw some injured players return, so that shouldn’t make too much of a difference for the strength of Jong AZ. If Poldervaart can get the players behind him, De Graafschap have a chance, but I suspect Jong AZ are too well-structured and will certainly not be outplayed.
NAC Breda v VVV Venlo
NAC Breda are one of the surprises of this season so far. Earlier this year, fans frustrated the City Group coming in and taking over the club. Instead, a group of local investors stepped in and became the majority shareholder in the club to save the club from bankruptcy. The local investors keep the soul of the club alive, but don’t have anywhere near the amount of money the City Group were thinking to invest, so the club was barely able to invest in players.
Having said that, NAC Breda had a surprisingly good start to the season. The side had a little glitch in the second half against Jong Ajax, where they suddenly lost focus and were overrun, but quickly recovered from that with a completely deserved 3-1 victory over Jong Utrecht. VVV Venlo started the season well with four victories in five games, but have since lost their rhythm. VVV were defeated by Heracles Almelo, which isn’t that surprising, but got lucky with a point in the home matches against weak teams like Jong PSV and Telstar and that is worrying.
VVV are a bit of a mess at the back and the expectation is that NAC Breda will take advantage of that. NAC Breda are steady in defence and composed going forward and that should be enough to get them the three points in this game.
PEC Zwolle v Jong Ajax
This could be an interesting match. PEC Zwolle are probably the best side in the league, but Jong Ajax could see several of the fringe players from the first team in this game, as the first team won’t be playing until Sunday. Players like Lorenzo Lucca and Francisco Conceição make the home side significantly stronger going forward. Neither of them really have a chance of getting lots of game time in the first team at the moment, so to keep them match fit, they’ll probably get an hour with the academy side.
PEC Zwolle are the most scoring side in the second division and are the favourites to win this. Just before the international break, they suffered a surprising defeat at the hands of ADO Den Haag. It was their first defeat of the season, that had so far been pretty flawless and that should be a wake-up call. Going forward, players like Tomislav Mrkonjic and Lennart Thy are too strong for the Eerste Divisie, so the expectation is that they’ll find the goal in this game. That same goes for Jong Ajax, especially with Lucca and Conceição likely to join the side for this game, that’s why I’d put my money on both teams to find the net in this match.
Almere City v Roda JC
Almere City vs Roda JC is a match between two teams with a strong ambition to move up to the top flight. In Almere City’s case, they have been close a few times, but the start of this season hasn’t been great. However, they did manage to get home victories against bottom of the table dwellers like FC Den Bosch and TOP Oss and away at the struggling De Graafschap, so Almere are not too far from the play-offs spots.
Roda JC are finally recovering from bad financial problems that almost cost them bankruptcy a few years ago and can think about returning to the top flight again. With Dylan Vente, they have one of the most prolific Eerste Divisie strikers up front and partly because of that, they are in full fight for promotion. The striker finished on 23 goals in 38 games last season and is already on 8 goals in as many games this season. The dependency on Vente’s goals is a bit worrying as he scored more than half of Roda’s goals this season, but in recent games young striker Bryan Limbombe also started pulling his weight. Both Almere and Roda have an upwards curve when it comes to the amount of goals scored, so are likely more confident going forward than before. That’s why I expect there will be goals in this match.
FC Den Bosch v Heracles Almelo
This is a match between one of the worst teams in the league and one of the favourites for promotion. Den Bosch were lucky to claim a victory against ADO Den Haag early in the season with an xG that massively favoured ADO and other than that only the last game was pretty decent with a 4-1 victory over fellow low-ranked team TOP Oss. Den Bosch never really get overrun, but it seems like they don’t have enough going forward to really worry their opponent’s defence.
Heracles on the other hand are improving by the week. Apart from one pretty shocking match against Jong Ajax, they have been very dominant and last week they even claimed an easy victory over Helmond Sport despite being down to 10 men after 15 minutes. That was because attacking midfielder Anas Ouahim got a red card. The German number ten has been important for Heracles this season, but with Nikolai Laursen, Emil Hansson and Samuel Armenteros likely returning from injury, they still have enough players that can make the difference against a weak FC Den Bosch side. So I fully expect Heracles to claim a victory here.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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