Alex Royal visited the Netherlands over the weekend to watch ADO Den Haag take on AZ Alkmaar and VVV Venlo against Twente. He takes you through the experience below.

  • Follow Alex on Twitter

>With Middlesbrough playing on Good Friday and Easter Monday, I had a free weekend. So I decided to jump on the plane and do my last Eredivisie games of the current season.

ADO-AZ didn’t kick off until 20:45, so I had a lot of time to kill, having took the early flight. I decided to head to Rotterdam and watch Excelsior’s training session, which fans can watch, nice. Besides watching the training session, I interviewed Excelsior midfielder Ali Messaoud. Excelsior really impressed me when I went there last month, a great club.

ADO Den Haag vs AZ

There were A’s all round as ADO took on AZ at the Cars Jeans on Saturday night.

ADO were looking to cement their position in the European play offs, knowing that one of their closest challengers: Heerenveen and Heracles would drop points as they took on each other on Sunday.

On the other hand, AZ were looking to all but seal third position, having been impressive all season.

This was a game that I was most looking forward to between the sides that I have watched most this season. As I wrote in my previous piece, AZ have done nothing but impress me all season, and ADO have surprised plenty, having been tipped as relegation candidates.

ADO ultras with a colourful display.

First Half

Bjørn Johnsen has been a revelation since joining ADO in the summer, and had the first real chance, but Marco Bizot got down well after the Norwegian tried to round him after five minutes. Fredrik Midtsjø had a chance a few minutes later after neat play between himself, Idrissi and Jahanbakhsh. It took another 10 minutes for AZ to break through, after Aaron Meijers was massively caught out of position, Alireza Jahanbakhsh had the freedom of the right hand side to cross for Wout Weghorst who duly obliged with a deft back heel finish.

Two minutes later Oussama Idrissi really should have doubled AZ’s lead, missing from close range after Til’s ball across the 6-yard-box caught Zwinkels in no-mans land. The chances didn’t end there as Guus Til should have made it 2-0 10 minutes later, firing wide.

The real turning point of the game came just before the half hour mark. Thijmen Goppel, a surprising starter for me ahead of Elson Hooi considering the inexperienced Owen Wijndal started at left back, broke down the right hand side and his cross was perfect for Bjørn Johnsen. Who else would you want to be on the end of a header 6 yards out? Straight at Bizot – a massive let off for AZ, it really should have been 1-1. That miss was to prove costly as 90 seconds later Idrissi doubled the visitor’s lead with a nice finish from just outside the area.

It looked to be a case of damage limitation for ADO after Jahanbakhsh volleyed in from Guus Til’s corner, although Goppel’s efforts on the line were a little questionable.

Second Half

The game was over as a contest as soon as AZ went 3-0 up. This half was a typical boring 45 minutes as the Alkmaar side had the points in the bag. The best chance fell to Lex Immers to grab a consolation from a corner, but Bizot would not be beaten.


ADO were simply played off the park by the best footballing side in the division. AZ are an absolute joy to watch when they get into full flow.

AZ fans.

 VVV Venlo vs Twente

I left Delft early doors and made the long train trip east to Venlo. My journey took an extra hour due to an incident between Breda and Eindhoven. This meant a diversion via Utrecht.

VVV have had an amazing season, safe in mid-table after many tipped them to go straight back down. On the other hand, Twente have had a diabolical season, both on and off the field. The Enscheders are deep in relegation trouble, and going down could mean bankruptcy, such is the nature of their financial problems. Gertjan Verbeek was relieved of his duties on Monday, with Marino Pusic given the job of saving the Tukkers from relegation.


Despite being bottom of the league, Twente are one of the best supported clubs in the Netherlands. Their fans were in fine voice throughout.

First Half

VVV started cautiously and Twente were the better side for much of the first 45. The first sign of this was when Lars Unnerstall fluffed his clearance as far as Fredrik Jensen, Jerold Promes clearing. Danny Holla spurned two chances before Clint Leemans’ free kick was turned behind by Joel Drommel. Leemans came closest to breaking the deadlock just before the break, his thunderbolt from just outside the area had Drommel beaten, missing the post by inches.

Second Half

After a drab first half, I was hopeful of a much better second half. The game needed a real moment of quality, and Adnane Tighadouini almost provided it, Lars Unnerstall tipping his effort onto the post. That wasn’t the end of Unnerstall’s heroics however, as with 15 minutes left, he made a fantastic save from Jensen’s close range effort, after a fast break between the Finnish international and Luciano Slagveer. The final stages of the game petered out, and the points were shared.


This was a game to forget, not only for the lack of goals, but the lack of chances too. What really shocked me was the lack of urgency from Twente, considering they need points quickly. Especially with Roda beating Vitesse on Saturday night. VVV didn’t play all that well and will be happier with a point than the visitors. De Koel is a ground with plenty of character, not like these soulless bowls that are now the norm in England.

I hope you all enjoyed reading.

Alex Royal (7 Posts)

22 year old from the UK, Middlesbrough fan but have a huge passion for Dutch football in general, especially the Eredivisie. I try and get over when it doesn't clash with Middlesbrough games.