After winning the Eerste Divisie last season, Willem II are back in the Eredivisie, but can the Tilburg side re-establish themselves among the Dutch elite.

  • By Michael Bell
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willem cjbfjOver the past four years, Willem II have been relegated from the Eredivisie twice, and bounced straight back up the following  season. After storming to the Eerste Divisie title last season, the club managed by Jurgen Streppel will be aiming to establish themselves back in the Eredivisie.

Transfers:

Last season Willem II relied on the goals of on loan striker Ruud Boymans, who netted 26 times in 37 league games, but he has now signed for Utrecht. To replace the forward, Willem II have turned to former Chelsea prodigy Ben Sahar, who joins on a free transfer after leaving Hertha Berlin. The club have also signed Ajax’s talented, but injury prone midfielder Fabian Sporkslede, and Feyenoord goalkeeper Kostas Lamprou, both on loan.

Pre-season:

Willem II started pre-season by beating Nemelaer 5-0, Waasland-Beveren 2-1, and Roda JC 1-0, but were then handed two heavy defeats during a trip to France. French giants Marseille spanked Willem II 5-0, before they were also beaten 5-2 by St Etienne, despite taking a 2-0 lead in that game.

Strongest Willem II XI: Lamprou, Cornelisse, Heerkens, Peters, Heymans, Sporkslede, Ippel, Messaoud, Vicento, Andrade, Sahar

Key Players:

Ali Messaouad: Willem II’s number 10, and playmaker last season, Messaouad scored 10 goals in the title winning campaign. The Moroccan has an excellent passing range, and at times his right foot can be lethal in front of goal.

Bruno Andrade: The Brazilian forward was excellent for Willem II last season, and formed a lethal partnership up front with Ruud Boymans, which produced 40 league goals between them. Capable of playing on the left wing or through the middle, Andrade is a handful for defences, and could prove vital if Willem II are to survive.

Young player to watch:

Terell Ondaan: The 20-year-old winger was a revelation in the Eerste Divisie last season, scoring six times in 34 league games, which earned him a cap for Netherlands U21’s. A former AZ, and Ajax youth prospect, Ondaan could be one of the breakout stars in the division this season, and should impress many with his speed, and silky skills.

Prediction:

Out of all three of the new clubs in the Eredivisie, Willem II look most likely to thrive back in the Eredivisie, with the club possessing the right mix of experience, and youth all over the pitch. The squad is packed full of talent, and it will be interesting to see how Sahar, and Andrade’s partnership will form, while Ondaan is definitely one to keep an eye on this season.

In their last two Eredivisie seasons, Willem II have finished dead last, but i can see a much more promising season in Tilburg

My Prediction: 12-15th




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