The Eredivisie could set up a title race between the traditional three as all are primed and ready to take advantage. However, each team possesses their weaknesses and limitations in what should be an intriguing prospect to watch. This feature will go through the teams and characters who could be influential in this Eredivisie goldrush.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
  • Follow Chaka on Twitter

aja psv hhThere is a semblance of a title race that will ensue in the second-half of the Eredivisie season. The traditional top three of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord are flying above the fray in the Eredivisie and will look to provide an enticing battle for the Eredivisie. All the title contenders possess the deep squads and blend of experience and youth to stake their claim for the prize of being the league champions.

Ajax who are currently leading the standings on 41 points, three points ahead of PSV and five points ahead of Feyenoord, as they have been dominant in the first half of the Eredivisie season. Their failure to translate that domination into Europe and a last minute Joel Veltman own goal resulting in them being knocked out of the KNVB Bekker could give them the competitive edge in the Eredivisie. PSV are fighting a battle on three fronts while Giovani Van Bronchorst will be looking to pick up some silverware in the KNVB Bekker could result in Ajax being fresh and well rested for a title charge. However, Frank De Boer has some systemic faults within his side as well as being undecided with his most effective attacking lineup.

Viktor Fischer has been one of the standout performers this season but hasn’t had the chance to acclimate to a position which is only made harder with the performances of Amin Younes and top scorer Anwar El Ghazi. Star midfielder Davy Klaassen has also been moved in between an attacking midfield role and a deeper midfield role while flirting with a role as a false-nine. In terms of their options up front, Arek Milik has eight goals and six assists but tends to go missing in some games while Ajax have a dearth of quality in options to challenge him or support him in the role. Frank De Boer stated the importance of the second half of the season after the win against De Graafschap in December.

“The winter championship doesn’t mean anything. We need to improve in many areas. But both the staff and definitely the selection are aware of that. We’re looking forward to the start of the second half of the season,” said De Boer to the Ajax website.

PSV are the current holders of the Eredivisie and have only one loss this season as they have also secured progression to the Last 16 of the Champions League for the first time in 7 years. However, they have managed to drop points after silly draws against some of the smaller teams after claiming the scalps of the likes of Ajax and Feyenoord. Phillip Cocu and Toon Gerbrands have both earmarked retaining the title as the priority for the second half of the season with the club also still competing in the KNVB Bekker. Maxime Lestienne and Jetro Willems will be welcomed back into the fold as the Rood-witten look to embark on what could be an incredibly successful season for them.

Cocu has chosen to drop Adam Maher recently in favour of Andres Guardado, Jorrit Hendrix and Davy Propper in midfield which is more like playing with a number 6 and two number 8s. This has resulted in the team being able to store a large amount of possession but lacking the explosive creativity that Maher would normally bring which was further exemplified in the absence of Lestienne. Cocu also has a selection headache with Jurgen Locadia and Gaston Pereiro playing the roles of secret weapons and will push Lestienne and Narsingh to work harder. Luuk De Jong who is currently Eredivisie top scorer with 14 goals has gone from strength to strength since joining last season and will be a key component of PSV’s title charge.

“It’s our goal to retain the title. We’ve tasted UEFA Champions League successes and we want more of the same,” said Cocu to PSV’s official website.

Feyenoord are the dark horses of the Eredivisie title race and will look to prove to the neutrals that they can win the title. Giovani Van Bronchorst’s first season is proving to be something remarkable as his team has only dropped two points at home, winnning eight of the last nine home games. The form of the returning Dirk Kuyt is adding pleasurable narrative to their title contention as he is second in the scoring charts with 13 goals, made even more stunning by the fact he has done it from the right flank. Behind him is Rick Karsdorp who’s blend of pace and athleticism helps him control of his flank with lungbusting runs and pin-point crosses which results in him having six assists to his name. Eljero Elia has also begun to show why he was so highly rated at an earlier stage of his career as he has flummoxed defenders on the left flank.

The question marks over a quality striker have trickled from the Rutten tenure into Van Bronchorst’s tenure. Michiel Kramer, who was signed from ADO Den Haag in the summer, has nine goals to his name but recently Pierre Van Hooijdonk raised questions about his exertions and his quality in a column on Voetbal International.

“Kramer must be much more dominant in the air, and play a lot more in the service of the team. Kramer now hangs too often from Romário. You can do that only if you’re decisive every week and that’s Kramer too little,” said Van Hooijdonk in his column on VI.

The second problem is with Colin Kazim-Richards who will miss Feyenoord’s game against PSV today as he was dropped after threatening a journalist who had written an unflattering story on him. Feyenoord are apparently looking to get rid of him which has been made difficult by his hefty wages which is a shame, especially in regards to the talent and potential Anass Achahbar possesses. Feyenoord must also improve their away form as they have three losses on the road including the one away to NEC Nijmegen before the winter break. Feyenoord went ahead through a sublime Tonny Vilhena free-kick but missed alot of chances and failed to translate their domination into goals as they pushed men forward. NEC scored three second half goals on the counter to win the game leaving Feyenoord to rue their missed opportunities all through the winter break.

The team also need to improve their defence as they have failed to find a suitable partner for Sven Van Beek who has been victim to a few mistakes this season, be it a few own goals or a terrible excuse for a backpass against NEC. Feyenoord brought in some Eredivisie experience in Jan Arie Van Der Heijden and Eric Botteghin while moving Terrence Kongolo to left back which has resulted in a defence that still has it’s faults. Feyenoord beating PSV today would be a great statement of intent as Van Bronchorst has already said Feyenoord are chasing more than a European place.

“Our goal continues to direct placement for European football, but we want more. Well, for that we will need, especially in away games better than the day come during the first half of the season,” said Van Bronchorst to Voetbal International.

The title battle will be competitive with each team possessing different strengths and drawbacks in this rat race for the title. Ajax currently lead the table and with whispers that De Boer could be on his way out, a title could be a welcome leaving present. Cocu has just signed a contract till 2019 and could only enhance his growing reputation with back to back titles. Van Bronchorst’s first season has been encouraging till now and would solidify his status as a cult hero among De Kuip faithful if he brings the title to Rotterdam after such a long wait. One can only lick their lips with excitement as the second half of the season is sure to bring a lot of entertainment.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)