Football is back! After a long summer of very little football, which my Mum has been very happy about, the new Eredivisie season is upon us. A good look at what’s happening here, the Eredivisie Preview you’ve been waiting for!
We’ve been treated to the early European qualifiers. Ajax will be feeling unfortunate to have been knocked out by Nice and PSV performed under par against Croatian side Osijkek. Both will be hoping their domestic campaigns start more fruitfully. Utrecht progressed past Lech Poznan and have earned a third-round qualifier against Russian giants Zenit, whilst Feyenoord patiently await the Champions League group draw.
The Rotterdammers will be hoping to repeat the title success of last season. Ajax and PSV will be hoping to reclaim the silverware they believe is rightfully theirs.
Further down the table there are plenty of teams that will be hoping to make it to the Europa League play-offs. The battle between Utrecht, Vitesse, AZ, Heerenveen, Groningen and Twente is always exciting to see unfold.
In the lower half of the table, it’ll be interesting to see how Roda JC improve from last year. Their ambitious new owners have stated that they wish to see stability return to the club; particularly in terms of the playing staff. 56 players have arrived since 2014!
Finally, of course, we welcome back NAC Breda and VVV Venlo to the Eredivisie. They’ll be hoping to upset the status quo and finish the season still in the division.
Eredivisie Preview: Notable transfers
As is customary in the Eredivisie off-season there has been a lot of transfer activity. Circling like vultures, clubs from around Europe have taken their turns to pick apart the well-blended squads for the rising talents that emerged in the season previous. It is often the players themselves that decide they are ready for the next step.
Feyenoord have been victims of their own success. Rick Karsdorp and Terence Kongolo have earned high profile moves to Roma and Monaco having been given a strong platform at De Kuip. They have also lost their leader Dirk Kuyt, who retired on a high after last season’s title win. However, no time was wasted in their recruitment drive. Defenders Haps and St Juste have arrived with plenty of Eredivisie experience. Steven Berghuis’ loan has been made permanent and the Rotterdammers have also brought in Amrabat from FC Utrecht.
Van Bronckhorst has turned his attention to players from the Eredivisie this Summer. The idea is likely to be that these players will be able to hit the ground running rather than taking time to adapt to the division’s general style of play. Keeping golden boot winner Jorgensen at the club will most likely be the club’s best piece of business this window.
At Ajax, one of the most notable changes has been in the dugout. Last season’s Europa League run attracted Dortmund’s interest in manager Peter Bosz which means that Marcel Keizer has been promoted to the first team manager role. In December 2015, Voetbal International predicted Bazoer, Riedewald and Tete to be the future of Ajax. The trio have all moved on from the club. Bazoer to Wolfsburg in January, and the other two to Crystal Palace and Lyon this summer. The biggest challenge will be replacing captain Davy Klaassen, who joined Everton for €27m. The club philosophy dictates that the first place to look for replacements is in the youth teams and it is no different this window. Van de Beek has started the season incredibly well in midfield with a goal in both ties against Nice. Elsewhere, the return of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has sparked excitement amongst fans though he is likely to play a secondary role to Dolberg.
It’s been a particularly active window at PSV and it appears there is still a lot of work to do for Phillip Cocu. Defenders Moreno and Willems have moved on in addition to Propper and Guardado in midfield. Loanees Zinchenko and Siem de Jong have also both returned to their parent clubs. Luckassen has arrived from AZ as a direct replacement for Roma-bound Moreno, but the most interesting piece of business is the arrival of Mexican winger Hirving Lozano, who was once linked to Manchester United. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops over the season. Marco van Ginkel has again arrived on loan from Chelsea.
FC Utrecht also need a busy last few weeks of the window to replace the goals of top scorer Haller and Barazite. Additionally, the influence of Amrabat in midfield will be missed. The club which finished as the ‘best of the rest’ will be hoping Gyrano Kerk continues his development and builds on his breakthrough season last year. Moreover, success in their Europa League play-off against Zenit will compound the need for more signings.
Vitesse has made the smart purchase of Luc Castaignos to replace out-going van Wolfswinkel, who departs after one season and a KNVB Beker trophy. The Arnhem club have also brought in Linssen from Groningen and former Groningen and PSV striker Tim Matavz, who they’ll be hoping can recapture the Eredivisie form from his early career. Their biggest loss is likely to be that of Lewis Baker who returns to Chelsea after his loan expired.
Elsewhere, FC Twente will need to find a replacement for Enes Unal who has joined Villarreal from Manchester City. Losing a striker who scored 18 goals would hurt for any club, but it’ll hit the Tukkers especially hard. Rene Hake will do especially well to match the success of last season.
Eredivisie Preview: Fixtures
Ajax have the most comfortable start. Heracles away on the opening day shouldn’t provide too much of a test for a team that has already started playing competitive football in Europe this season. The biggest test is likely to be the rotation that is necessary to maintain the intensity required in their play in Europe and domestically. The first tough fixture comes against Vitesse on matchday 6 and the first Klassieker isn’t until matchday 9.
PSV have the toughest start of the big three as they play AZ on the opening day before facing Feyenoord, Heerenveen and Utrecht within the first six games of the season. There’ll be no European football in Eindhoven this season as they were defeated home and away by Croatian minnows Osijek. Hopefully, their domestic campaign starts more impressively.
Feyenoord start the defence of their title against Twente and the first Rotterdam derby is on matchday two away at Excelsior. Interestingly, the Rotterdammers play both PSV and Ajax before the end of October. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the rigors of Champions League football on top of the domestic calendar.
Elsewhere, spare a thought for NAC Breda who face Vitesse, AZ, Feyenoord and PSV within their first six games. The newly promoted side will be hoping the momentum from last season can carry them through a testing first few weeks.
An interesting game to watch on the opening weekend will be the derby between Groningen and Heerenveen at the Euroborg with both teams wanting a good start over their rivals.
Eredivisie Preview: Potential Upsets?
Unless they bring in some top-quality signings before the end of the window I predict PSV will struggle. Van Ginkel is a brilliant acquisition, but they’ll be desperate for Luuk de Jong to rediscover his scoring form. Last year they were so wasteful in front of goal and they’ve lost several first team players this summer.
Currently, it’s hard to pick a potential surprise package for the upcoming season. Utrecht have lost key players that they would have looked to build upon from last season and it looks unlikely that they’ll retain 4th spot in the league. Had they kept Haller and Amrabat they could have caused PSV some issues.
Vitesse are potentially the best suited to secure 4th this season. The big question mark being whether they can get Luc Castaignos up and running quickly. Replacing the 20 goals scored by van Wolfswinkel last season may prove too much for the returning striker. Additionally, if they are to usurp Utrecht for 4th there will need to be an 11-point swing.
Eredivisie Preview: Where is the title headed?
This has to be part of the Eredivisie preview of course! The title looks as though it’ll be heading either to Rotterdam or Amsterdam. Ajax look to have the more talented squad with some particularly special youngsters coming through the ranks.
Dolberg, Kluivert and De Ligt look set to play key roles this season after very respectable breakthroughs last year. Additionally, Donny van de Beek has started the season impressively in the midfield, replacing outgoing captain Klaassen. The youngster scored in both legs against Nice in the Champions League qualifiers earlier this month and looked very capable with his break-up play.
Early indications suggest that Keizer will play with the same style as Bosz did which should prevent the same slow start as last year. There are few players to have to blend into the system which should help the new coach also.
Feyenoord, whilst have lost key full backs, have kept prized possessions further up the pitch. Jorgensen, Berghuis and Vilhena have all been retained. Additionally, Boetius has been brought in to replace Elia. The biggest loss to the dressing room may be Kuyt, who helped push the title challenge over the line last season.
The high turnover of players at PSV will probably prevent any real title challenge. Their disappointing showing last season has probably led to the exodus this summer and, as previously mentioned, there needs to be more additions before the end of the window. Simply put PSV need to score more goals and an over reliance on de Jong may once again cause them issues.
Ajax are my tip for the Eredivisie title this season, with Feyenoord second and PSV in third. With a few weeks left in the window there is still time for deals to go through which could change this. Of course, football continuously proves difficult to predict. It’s a funny old game after all.
Anything to add to this Eredivisie preview? Feel free to pitch in!