Thursday, September 18, 2008

League Of The Week: Netherlands / Eredivisie

It is a matter of statistical fact that 89.7% of everything ever written in the UK press about Dutch football has been about the national team. Of that, 72% includes the words "turn" and "Cruyff". OK, that's probably completely untrue but it does reflect the relatively low profile of Dutch club football internationally. When we think of great Dutch footballers we don't always think of them in the club colours of Ajax or Eindhoven but of Barcelona or AC Milan.

So what better opportunity to, in a very small way, redress the balance than by making our second instalment of League Of The Week all about the Dutch Eredivisie?

The season started in the same week as the southern Europeans in Italy and Spain this year so is only into its second week. As is customary with early season tables, there is a distinctly unfamiliar look about the top of the table.

For starters, traditional powerhouses Ajax have not had the best of starts to the campaign. The Amsterdam club lost their first match to Willem II who are based in the south of the Netherlands.

Ajax did manage an unconvincing 1-0 victory against the south-western club Roda in the former mining town of Kerkrade. Expectations are high under new coach Marco van Basten that he will return this legendary club to its former glory and win the title for the first time since the 2003/2004 season. The club will point to the retention of Klaas Jan-Huntelaar (left) as a sign of their ambition.

In recent years however, the championship as gone to PSV Eindhoven who are doing a bit of a Lyon and hoping to ape their French counterparts dominance of the League. Eindhoven is another southern club and are two for two this season so far. Last weekend they squeaked past Sparta Rotterdam thanks to a single goal from Ibrahim Afellay. It was the Dutch international's third goal of the season after scoring a brace in the previous round against his home town of Utrecht, a game that ended 5-1 to PSV. Things didn't go too well for them in the Champions League, though, as they got thrashed 3-0 at home against Atletico Madrid.

Despite Eindhoven's good start, it was not enough to put them on top of the fledgling table. Above them are two other clubs with 100% records. In second place is FC Groningen. The northern club are there thanks to a 2-0 victory against the hapless Utrecht and an even more satisfying demolition at Vittesse Arnhem, 4-0. Groningen's next game is against the perennially strong Feyenoord who themselves have been no stranger to the back of the net.

The Rotterdam club were 5-0 victors last weekend but 3-1 losers the weekend before thanks to Heracles who are based in Almelo to the west of the country. Newcastle supporters will be dismayed to learn that Jon Dahl Tomasson is still banging them in for Feyernoord.

So that leaves newly promoted Den Haag at the top. The Dutch capital is not known as a footballing hotbed and they are not expected to maintain such a lofty position for long. However, they did beat the mighty AZ Alkmaar to get there and will be loving every moment. Striker Richard Knopper (right) has been among the goals with three in two matches.

That pretty much covers that but we couldn't possibly leave without giving you an update of Steve McClaren and his new club FC Twente. Well in fact its an unbeaten start for the former England coach with two 1-1 draws against Roda and NEC Nijmegen. The Enschede based club are ambitious and will be hoping for a good showing in the UEFA Cup this season after having been so narrowly beaten by Arsenal in the Champions League qualifiers 6-0 on aggregate. They travel to Stade Rennes in France tonight for the first leg. Strangely, the match isn't being carried here in the UK.

Eredivisie matches can be seen on Setanta Sports in the UK and for more information on those, check out our regular Some People Are On The Pitch TV Previews. If you have a request for the next League Of The Week, why not leave a comment below?


albionroad said...

Nice stuff. I'm glad Holland is no longer doing that annoying Champions League qualification playoffs anymore.

Major League Soccer next!

Duffman said...

Thanks albionroad. I personally thought the Champs League play-off was quite novel but it did lead to teams like Twente getting thrashed which hardly helps the Leagues cause.

One vote for MLS. Anymore?

Anonymous said...


I'm sure Sheve McLarensh will have plenty to say about the Dutch League.


The Lord Of The Wing (who has lost his blogger account)

Anonymous said...

Almelo being to the west of the country would put it in the north sea, its in the east.

Amsterdam is still the capital of the Netherlands.

Duffman said...

East, west, capital, seat of Government... Whatever ;)


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