FC Twente v Sparta Rotterdam
Twente are chasing a sixth win in seven in the Eredivisie. Manager Ron Jans has had a superb season in charge, and he even had to swat away rumours of leaving for Ajax in the summer. Jans is busy on his project with Twente to try and get them competing in Europe again. Having seen Vitesse’s success this season on a European stage, there will be confidence amongst the squad of finishing the job and finishing in the top four, which will guarantee a European ticket. If Twente finish between 5th and 8th, then they will compete in the play-offs. Given how they have been playing though, I can see them continuing their good run.
Sparta – in their last full game – were terrible at Fortuna, losing 3-0 to a direct opponent in the table. Maduka Okoye looked particularly suspect. For a goalkeeper getting a step up to Watford in the summer, he is playing like one of the league’s worst goalkeepers, not impressing everyone like he once was.
In the final six minutes of the suspended game against Vitesse, Sparta held out their slim one-goal lead. It was a bizarre six minutes watching a team sit back and pump everything out of their own box! That will have helped Sparta players put the terrible performance at Fortuna behind them. I think they will be typically defensive and Twente will find a way through eventually. A Twente win, under 2.5 goals, and both teams not scoring were all in my considerations here
NEC Nijmegen v Ajax
It’s no home win since the end of October for NEC. Their six month struggle in Nijmegen has been mainly down to a lack of goal-scoring; they have only scored three in last their last seven at De Goffertstadion in 2022. Head coach Rogier Meijer could be criticised for not changing up much of his tactics since the beginning of the season. At the end of the day, they are totally safe from relegation, something which, having come up from the promotion play-offs last season, should please NEC supporters.
Ajax come into this fresh from losing the Dutch Cup final 2-1 to PSV. Erik Ten Hag – who has now become the new Manchester United manager- seemed to blame divine intervention as the reason why his side weren’t successful: “We were up against more than 11 players.” When Ten Hag was pressed on whether he was referring to the referee he said no!
The fact of the matter is that change is needed this summer at the Amsterdam club. I’m not sure they have convinced any Dutch football fan since February. They are now conceding far too many soft goals; they aren’t as ruthless with their goal-scoring (there seems to be too much reliance on crosses into the box now); and there are goalkeeping issues with Pasveer injured, Onana out of sorts, and Maarten Stekelenburg aging. However, they should still win the league – even with AZ and Vitesse away to come – because they have a four-point cushion with only five games left. I think they will find NEC quite easy to beat too
AZ Alkmaar v Heerenveen
AZ’s last game was a fortnight ago: a poor 2-1 defeat at PEC Zwolle. They are running out of steam as the season comes to an end. Undoubtedly, they already have an eye on next season, signing left-back Mees de Wit as a replacement for the inevitable departure of Owen Wijndal. The Alkmaar side are still targeting a top three finish. Although it is likely to be a tussle with Twente for fourth.
The gap to third is six points with only five matches remaining, and I don’t think a win over mid-table Heerenveen will be easy to claim. The visitors are five unbeaten – their best form all season. There’s a bit more togetherness being shown in performances. I have also noted Amin Sarr and Syndey van Hooijdonk’s improved contribution – four goals between the two of them in the last three matches; the two strikers are growing more confident in the Eredivisie.
I think if AZ are to win, the win will be narrow (such as a 2-1), so a handicap for Heerenveen isn’t such a bad idea if they have another positive performance.
RKC Waalwijk v PEC Zwolle
RKC could take a massive step towards Eredivisie safety with a win over direct relegation rivals PEC Zwolle. I’m sure that they will do their best to avoid defeat at least, so they can keep that small cushion to the bottom three that they seem to have had for months now.
After four narrow defeats, PEC came storming back with an important victory against AZ. They are still fighting, but they have Ajax and PSV to come, so points in a game like this may become necessary with teams around them looking likely to pick up two or three wins before the end of the season.
Ultimately, I think PEC will be relegated, as I predicted at the beginning of the campaign. They are a few quality players short of staying up. In a difficult game to predict because of its nature, the mentality will be key. It may be a low-scoring affair, but there’s always a chance that Zwolle crumble. That is why I will go with a strong home performance and Waalwijk will be able to earn at least a draw
Cambuur v PSV
Now it’s seven defeats from the last eight for Cambuur – the newly promoted side who were threatening to qualify for Europe in the first half of the season. What’s noticeable for me is that they are really struggling to create opportunities in games; several times lately they can’t even get a shot on target, but they have had occasional good performances thrown in the mix too.
Meanwhile, PSV are high from their victory in the Dutch Cup final. Cody Gakpo was the hero as he scored the second goal in two minutes to put PSV 2-1 up straight after half time. Ajax could have scored more; even though PSV’s effort was there, you could see how open they are defensively. For me, Ibrahim Sangaré was man of the match; surely the defensive midfielder will get a Premier League move in the summer.
As also shown in their Europa Conference League exit to Leicester, PSV are just prone to too many defensive errors. Their fitness was also a concern for me in this tie, but they did go on and lift the Dutch Cup three days after their gruelling second leg with the Premier League side. Can PSV still win the league? I’m not so sure. Will this be a comfortable away win for them? For me, even if Cambuur come racing out of the traps, PSV’s prowess in attack means they won’t be able to keep a clean sheet at all
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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