Every week in the 2021/22 season, Football-Oranje’s Michael Statham gives you his previews and predictions for each Dutch Eredivisie round. You can see betting tips for each of the games every weekend on this website.

  • by Michael Statham
  • Follow Michael on Twitter @EredivisieMike
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Friday, 5th August

Heerenveen v Sparta Rotterdam

Heerenveen look well prepared for a good season after a summer of tweaking. New head coach Kees van Wonderen is known for his teams’ strong defences. He is likely to set up in a 3-5-2, which plays to the squad’s strengths of three very good centre-backs: Pawel Bochniewicz, Joost van Aken and new captain Sven van Beek. Bochniewicz returns from a year-long injury, and my view is that he was one of the Eredivisie’s best defenders before his lay-off. Up front, regular readers of these Eredivisie previews will remember how much I was beginning to enjoy Swedish striker Amin Sarr; I think he could score the goals to lead this side into the top half at least this season.

Sparta Rotterdam come into the season with a few uncertainties over the starting eleven. Over the summer, money was spent to bring in Tobias Lauritsen and Joshua Kitolano from the Norwegian league, former Dutch international Jonathan De Guzman, and a few other players who should improve a side that narrowly avoided relegation last season.

All things considered, at the moment, it looks like Heerenveen will have the stronger start to the campaign, and with them playing at home, I think this will be a narrow home victory. 1-0

Saturday, 6th August

Fortuna Sittard v Ajax

This season, Fortuna Sittard could be much more of a threat in games against the top sides. Last year, they flirted heavily with relegation, but some quality forward players kept them up. Mats Seuntjens is remaining at the club, winger Inigo Cordoba arrived after a great season with Go Ahead Eagles, and they also managed to seal the high-profile signing of Burak Yilmaz from Lille. Yilmaz is 36 now, but he still has the potential to score double figures in a year in the Eredivisie.

The questions that remain from Fortuna’s perspective are whether Yilmaz will be fit for this, and whether Fortuna will be defensively more resolute this season. Rodrigo Guth was another excellent summer signing; the centre-back was impressive with NEC last year.

This summer, Ajax have gone through the most change they have endured over the past few years in which they have dominated the Eredivisie. Will this mean a step backwards for them? Alfred Schreuder is the new manager, and they spent most of their transfer fees that came in from the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Ryan Gravenberch and Sebastien Haller leaving the club.

We saw Ajax’s attacking quality and their defensive frailties in the 3-5 Dutch Super Cup defeat to PSV. A game full of goals and excitement that suggests this could be a great title race this season. With question marks on who Ajax’s first-choice goalkeeper and back four will be in these early weeks, but attacking quality in abundance at the other end, we could be in for an entertaining encounter on Saturday. Both teams to score is almost a must. 1-2

Cambuur v Excelsior

Both of these teams could struggle this season. Newly promoted Excelsior play attacking football, usually conceding a lot of goals in the process. Over the summer, they have lost key midfielder Mats Wieffer and their coveted Keuken Kampioen Divisie top goal-scorer Thijs Dallinga — without so far properly replacing them. It is very likely they’ll be relegated, and they might even become the whipping boys.

Cambuur enjoyed their first season back in the Eredivisie — or at least half of it. After a strong start, they dropped down the league like a stone in 2022, only winning twice this year so far. Sadly, head coach Henk de Jong became ill, having to hand over responsibilities to Dennis Haar, and it may explain their drop off in form. Sylvester van der Water was their main signing, which could give the side a new dimension from out wide. Cambuur also did not sell any of their current key players.

Being at home to a weaker side, Cambuur’s fans will expect a home victory to open up the campaign. As with most of the opening fixtures this weekend, they will be difficult to predict with pre-season only a taste of what is to come, but both of these sides lost to other Eredivisie clubs in their preparations. 1-0

PSV v FC Emmen

PSV go into the new season with renewed firepower and motivation. Ruud van Nistelrooy has been fast-tracked from the youth teams to become the new head coach, and several shrewd new signings offer them a great chance of lifting their first title since 2018. After their draw with Monaco on Tuesday, they will be keen to rest several players before the return leg. The club are focussed on qualifying for the Champions League group stages, and their first few fixtures should be winnable with a number of key players rested. It does however open the door for opponents to frustrate PSV.

Emmen do have a tough first outing upon their immediate Eredivisie return, but they forged a strong defensive record in the Dutch second tier. I don’t think it will enough to cause an upset here. Even if Emmen are holding a good result going late into the game, van Nistelrooy can make some easy substitutions to get a goal (and PSV were a great bet for a late goal or two last season). 2-0

RKC Waalwijk v FC Utrecht

Last season, RKC Waalwijk prided themselves on their strong defence. Despite relegation fears (and the tight nature of the Eredivisie bottom half last season), they managed to finish 10th. Since then though, centre-backs Melle Meulensteen and Ahmed Touba have departed, and the club have decided not to buy anybody new to replace them, instead expecting their younger players to step up to become first choice.

Utrecht, however, have strengthened well over the summer. Big striker Bas Dost is the marquee signing with Daishawn Redan the pacey alternative option up top. Despite selling key midfielders Adam Maher and Quinten Timber this summer, Henk Fraser should lead this side to a strong start. Three points away to RKC will be necessary in their push for a top four place this season. 0-2

Sunday, 7th August

FC Groningen v FC Volendam

Groningen were one of six Eredivisie clubs to change their head coach over the summer. Frank Wormuth, despite the former manager of Heracles Almelo suffering relegation in May, is still respected by many in the Netherlands as being a good coach. Groningen have mainly strengthened with young players again, in the hope that they will grow into sellable key players in the future. That strategy led to a poor season last year with some boring football too.

Volendam were one of three promoted teams to arrive from the Keuken Kampioen Divisie. They play some great football under well-known coach Wim Jonk, who surprised Dutch football fans by remaining with Volendam for another season, and they have some good young players coming through. How will they handle the Eredivisie? Well, they have made very few summer signings, but with Robert Muhren (who scored for fun in the Dutch second tier) and Henk Veerman returning to the club, they have two strikers who could score the goals to keep them up.

With Groningen in the early stages of a mini re-build, Volendam will sense a chance of at least a point. I think we will see Wormuth’s team take shape later on in the season. 1-1

NEC Nijmegen v FC Twente

NEC Nijmegen could be one of three sides to suffer ‘second season syndrome’ in the Eredivisie, having had a decent first season back in the top flight. The sell-out crowd will likely witness FC Twente laying down their marker for the new season, in between qualifying matches for the Europa Conference League.

The first leg of that qualifier went in Twente’s favour, with a 1-3 victory in Serbia. In pre-season Ron Jans’s men were pretty spectacular, beating Bologna and Schalke by comfortable margins. The players are lifted by marvellous support, and over the summer they managed to keep their best players for an exciting season ahead. Backing Twente with an away win should reap rewards here. 1-2

Vitesse Arnhem v Feyenoord

Vitesse, after a fun season competing in the Europa Conference League, have lost several key players on free transfers over the summer, and it is likely they will regress into mid-table mediocrity this year. Young players Enzo Cornelisse and Million Manhoef, plus teenage loan signings Ryan Flamingo and Mo Sankoh are expected to step up and lift the quality of a team that almost has a completely new back five in Thomas Letsch’s relatively unique system (by Eredivisie standards). At the moment, I don’t see where the attacking threat comes from midfield to support the strikers, who aren’t exactly prolific at this level either.

Feyenoord have just made a string of exciting signings, but will they be settled in enough for three points on Sunday? After the progress they made under Arne Slot last season, there is more re-building to do. All nine incomings are under the age of 26: Mexican Santiago Giménez is the new striker with Danilo the back-up option; Sebastien Szymanski has already impressed as the new first-choice attacking midfielder; and there are three more options for the wings. Expecting what will essentially be a brand-new front four to gel so quickly is unrealistic, so Feyenoord may drop some early points in the first weeks of the season. That may happen in Arnhem, but given the backwards steps Vitesse have taken, I would back Feyenoord to get off to a good start. 0-1

AZ Alkmaar v Go Ahead Eagles

AZ will spend another season chasing a place in the top four and competing in the Europa Conference League, at least that’s what they were hoping for before a dreadful away performance in qualifying on Thursday, losing to Dundee United. Pascal Jansen has been criticised a few times now for a lack of game plan or a Plan B when things are tricky for his side. However, AZ are usually a good bet to win home games like this one. The Alkmaar club have some decent firepower, but they can be guilty of spurning too many opportunities in games where they enjoy lots of possession.

Go Ahead Eagles look set to struggle this year, with some unknown quantities arriving from around Europe this summer, and new coach René Hake has a point to prove as an Eredivisie manager following an unsuccessful spell with Utrecht. 1-0

Michael Statham (807 Posts)

Writer/interviewer/YouTuber for Football-Oranje. Massive Dutch football fan from the UK. Follow me @EredivisieMike & subscribe to Football-Oranje on YouTube.