Excelsior are back in the Eredivisie after spending two years in the Eerste Divisie, but what can the Rotterdam side expect from the upcoming season? 

  • By Michael Bell
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excelsior hfhExcelsior finished third in the Eerste Divisie last season, and gained promotion after seeing off both Den Bosch, and RKC Waalwijk in the promotion play-offs. The side coached by Marinus Dijkuizen will be hoping to cement their place in the top division next year, and finally become an established Eredivisie side. Excelsior have only managed three seasons in the top flight in the last 27 years, and after losing top scorer Lars Veldwijk this summer to Nottingham Forest, they will start the season as one of the favourites for relegation.

Transfers:

Veldwijk netted 30 goals in 38 league games last season for Excelsior, and his departure will leave a huge void in the side. The job of replacing Veldwijk has been handed to Tom van Weert, who has joined from Den Bosch, where the striker netted 40 times in 97 league games. Twenty-year-old Bosnian Marko Matelic has also been signed for free from Stuttgart, after the attacker netted eight goals for Oss last season, while forward Ninos Gouriye has been loaned from ADO Den Haag. The defence has been strengthened by the signing of Daan Bovenberg, who was without a club after leaving NEC.

Feyenoord have used Excelsior as their feeder club in recent years, and before the transfer window shuts, don’t be surprised if a number of youth players are loaned between the Rotterdam clubs.

Pre-season:

Signs in pre-season have been mixed for Excelsior fans as the club started off with two wins over Tubantia, and a Schouwse XI, but then lost to Go Ahead Eagles 1-0, and were hammered 4-1 at home by Roda JC. Their final warm-up match saw Exclesior record a tight 1-0 victory over Telstar, but Dijkhuizen will know his side have to improve greatly when they start their Eredivisie campaign against NAC next week.

Strongest Exclesior XI: Deckers, Karami, Mattheij, Van Diermen, Brito, Kruys, Aussar, Stans, Botaka, Van Weert, Van Miegham

Key Players:

Tom van Weert: The striker has a huge task ahead of him to replace the goals that Veldwijk netted to earn Exclesior promotion last season. The 5ft 11 24-year-old had an excellent goal scoring record for Den Bosch, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the step up to the Eredivisie.

Adil Auassrar: The 27-year-old former Feyenoord midfielder was excellent for Exclesior last season, and will be one of their key men going into the Eredivisie campaign. A defensive midfielder, Aussrar will sit in front of the back four, and look to take control of the centre of the pitch.

Youngster to watch:

Jordan Botaka: The 21-year-old winger was a revelation for Exclesior last season after signing from Club Brugge, with Botaka going on to net 10 goals. The former Netherlands U19 international is a speedy winger, and will no doubt cause problems for defences in the Eredivisie.

Prediction:

There is no doubt that Exclesior will find it tough in the Eredivisie, but the same could have been said for Cambuur, and Go Ahead Eagles last season, with both eventually staying up with ease. The Rotterdam derbies between Feyenoord and Exclesior will no doubt add some extra spice to the campaign, but after the loss of Veldwijk, i can see nothing but a bottom three finish for the club. Unless a number of signing can be made before the end of August, the squad at the moment does not look strong enough to compete with the bigger teams, and pre-season defeats to Go Ahead, and Roda JC, have shown the club may not be ready for the step up.

My Prediction: Bottom three.




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