Cambuur v Ajax
Earlier in the Eredivisie season, Ajax thrashed Cambuur 9-0 in Amsterdam. That is because of Cambuur’s willingness to attack. Their style of play has gone on to earn them a spot comfortably in the top half of the table. Cambuur were winning more than they were losing; that was until a run of one win in nine league games, that now sees them clinging onto the final Europa Conference League play-off ticket. Should Henk de Jong’s men finish in eighth, that would be an amazing achievement, but his side have definitely lost their mojo in recent months, and they didn’t even have a shot on target against Twente last Sunday.
Ajax have their mammoth Champions League tie coming up just days after this fixture. In their last league match, they required a late Dusan Tadic penalty to squeeze past RKC Waalwijk 3-2, despite having 73% possession and having 39 shots in the game. Yet again, Erik Ten Hag needs to sort out a defence that plays too high up the pitch. They have conceded six goals in the last four games, and it took them seventeen games to concede six before that. Clearly something has not been carefully monitored in the tactics lately, because even RKC were able to have joy on the counter attack – there seems to be only one or two players left back with dangerous strikers on the half-way line.
Ajax need to be more streetwise here, because if they are, they will win comfortably, but I don’t see them keeping a clean sheet again on Friday.
Sparta Rotterdam v Go Ahead Eagles
How agonising for Sparta last Friday that they were on the brink of a rare three points away at Vitesse, only for crowd trouble to end the match early during stoppage time. The final five minutes of stoppage time will remarkably be played out at some point in the next weeks.
In that game, Sparta defended resolutely, as I predicted, but they were fortunate to escape with what would have been a clean sheet too. Can they follow that improved performance up with a winnable home game against Go Ahead?
Last week, the Eagles from Deventer had an intense week of home games, where they would have been relieved for seven days of rest and training. A win over Ajax was followed by a narrow cup defeat to PSV and a good draw against Utrecht, but you could see they were exhausted in the final minutes of the latter, and their home support was crucial to their alleviated level of performances.
Sparta have kept the tied fewest home clean sheets this season, yet Go Ahead have one of the worst expected goals scored stats in the Eredivisie away from home. Sparta’s rear-guard action is likely to stifle the likes of Inigo Cordoba, and produce a game low on goals, with high stakes for the home team to get a result.
FC Groningen v NEC Nijmegen
I’m expecting this to be a low-scoring game. Groningen pulled off an impressive defensive performance to come away a draw from Feyenoord – making it eight from nine games where a bet of under 3.5 goals would have won in their matches. NEC haven’t scored more than one goal in a game since this fixture occurred in the Dutch Cup back in January.
This is a fixture between two teams eying a spot in the top eight of the Eredivisie, which brings a spot in the end-of-season Europa Conference League play-offs.
Lately, Groningen have risen up the table, and they have looked a much better side than at the end of 2021 when it seemed Danny Buijs would never be able to get it right with his young side. A positive result for the home side is likely, despite NEC having the seventh best away record in the division (compared to the worst at home) – they have won only once in the last seven.
RKC Waalwijk v Heerenveen
The relegation battle is intensifying, with only a few results capable of changing everyone’s expectations over who goes down. This one is between RKC, who have been hovering above the drop zone for much of the season, and Heerenveen, who probably still don’t quite see themselves as part of this relegation picture.
Coached by Ole Tobiasen until the end of the season, Heerenveen picked up some wins around the middle of the season which were arguably undeserved (under ex-manager Jonny Jansen) and now a bad run of one draw and seven losses sees them dropping down the rankings. A win for Waalwijk may induce panic amongst Frisian supporters in a season seemingly going from bad to worse for them. New signings Sydney van Hooijdonk and Amin Sarr are yet to strike a partnership together; both seem to be very similar styles, and Sarr has been forced out into an uncomfortable wide role.
I have been far more impressed with RKC in 2022 because they have been punching above their weight with an excellent away record, which nearly saw them take a point from Ajax last weekend. Their forward players have a sprinkling of quality, and that could be important again here.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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