Eredivisie season overview after seven matches, part three

Posted on 30 September 2010

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11tegen11 is enjoying a well-deserved, but short holiday break. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the Eredivisie so far, updated to include match day 7, finishing off with part three.

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Roda JC

Last year: 9th Current position: 5th

W3 D3 L1

Preferred formation: 4-4-2 diamond

With their only loss so far being away at Ajax, Roda has built upon the successful second half of last season, which propelled them into last year’s final of the Europa League play-offs. Almost looking like a repair shop for players whose career has taken a path the wrong way, Roda and manager Harm van Veldhoven deserve full credit for bringing out the best again in players like Laurent Delorge, Mads Junker, Morten Skoubo and hopefully also Stijn Huysegems and Rob Wielaert.

Playing a 4-4-2 makes Roda unqiue in the Eredivisie these days, and successful too. Although unique in the Eredivisie, such a 4-4-2 diamond could also be seen at Sampdoria (away at PSV) or Wolfsburg, after Steve McLaren stepped away from the 4-2-3-1. Roda’s narrow midfield diamond proved difficult to break down for Twente and PSV, earning them creditable 0-0 home draws, and defeating AZ away. With Roda’s 4-4-2 providing the much desired tactical variety to the Eredivise it’s a good thing to see them well on course for another top-half finish this season.

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Twente

Last year: 1st Current position: 4th

W3 D4 L0

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, inside wingers, overlapping full-backs

Winning the title is one thing, defending the honour the year thereafter is quite something else. You can always ask AZ on this one! And the parallels are certainly there: a successful title challenge in a, with all due respect, provincial situated team, the success-manager departing and the squad derived of some of its best players.  But there’s a difference too. Twente’s financial situation looks good at they’ve managed to attract quite decent replacements for their departing players: striker Janko, winger Chadli and full-back Rosales to name a few. Managing to hold on to top-scorer Bryan Ruiz and Brazilian defensive fortress Douglas did not hurt either.

Twente’s new manager Preud’homme started the season with the 4-3-3 that brought Twente all the goods of last season. However, playing a narrow triangle in midfield without veteran Perez’ creativity proved quite difficult and after two 0-0 games and a scoreless first half at Vitesse, Preud’homme gave in to the popular 4-2-3-1, allowing him to play both talented striker Luuk de Jong , who is Ajax-player Siem’s little brother, and towering Austrian striker Mark Janko.

Conceding only one goal in their first six games is the half-full view, managing three 0-0 draws already is the half-empty one. And trailing Ajax by four points made their clash at match day 7 a true decider of the opening phase of the season. And with the result being a 2-2 draw everything is still very much possible at ‘De Grolsch Veste’ this year.

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Utrecht

Last year: 7th Current position: 12th

W3 D0 L4

Preferred formation: mainly 4-2-3-1 / 4-2-2-2

For FC Utrecht it’s not quite the start of the season anymore. Having kicked off their campaign at July 15 already, with the second qualification round of the Europa League, this team has been playing competitive matches for over two months now. So it has brought them quite some success, qualifying for the Europa League group stage, drawing away at Napoli and meanwhile, establishing a 7th place in the Eredivisie too. However, Utrecht’s problems might arise from this very same European success. Given the quite narrow squad, which could hardly be strengthened during the summer transfer window, apart from three very young Australians and back-up striker Demouge. Their recent defeat at Groningen, where, deprived of three of the first team striker, they played an ultra-defensive formation, might illustrate the problems to come further down the season.

Tactically speaking, Utrecht is certainly among the more interesting teams, as their formation is a mix of 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-2-2. Successful striker Van Woflswinkel, who might not play for Utrecht that long anymore given the increasing amount of foreign interest, consequently leads the line. The lay-out of the other three attackers is quite variable, partly because of early season injuries. When playing powerful forward Mulenga, who frequently drifts out left and right, their line-up gets a 4-2-2-2 aspect with Asare in a roaming central and right sided attacking midfield role and Mertens playing a comparable roaming left and central role. While Mulenga was injured manager Du Chatinier replaced him with traditional winger Duplan and their line-up looked more like a 4-2-3-1. With Mertens also out through injury it’s hard to tell the first choice formation as yet, but we’ll certainly come back to that.

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Vitesse

Last year: 14th Current position: 14th

W2 D1 L4

Preferred formation: ?

“Vitesse has got a new holiday. August 16 will be celebrated for years to come and beautiful times will quickly come to this club.” Quite some words from departing owner Maasbrecht Shouten who handed over his share of the club to Georgian investor Merab Jordania, who in turn, is rumoured to be aided financially by Chelsea owner Roman Abramovitsj.

Well, Vitesse did see a parade of loaned youngsters, introducing Chelsea-loaned Matej Delac, Slobodan Rajkovic and Nemanja Matic, Arsenal’s Dutch talent Nacer Barazite and (still only 22 years old) Ismael Aisatti from Ajax.  What Vitesse did not see so far were points, with a 0-0 home draw against NAC on match day 6 bringing Jordania’s first point as Vitesse owner. But, with so much going on at the moment, this might be the time to expect enough stability to expect results from manager Theo Bos, who sees new faces coming into his squad practically every week.

Tactically speaking it’s difficult to assess Bos’ long-term vision at the moment. With players being added practically every week so far, we’ll have to wait patiently and assess Vitesse in a few months from now.

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VVV Venlo

Last year: 12th Current position: 16th

W2 D0 L5

Preferred formation: 4-3-3

Playing a direct style, aiming for the aerial capabilities of forward Ruud Boymans, VVV did in fact lose five out of their first seven matches, but they’ve been quite close actually. Four of these five losses have been with a one goal margin and their two 1-0 home victories against Heracles and De Graafschap mean that they’ve managed to fight off two direct relegation rivals at their home stadium ‘De Koel’.

Of their 35 points last season, they’ve only managed to win eight away from home, scraping just one away win. This season’s trend seems not different to that, but should the club aim for more Eredivisie stability they should improve their away record to say the least.

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Willem II

Last year: 17th Current position: 18th

W0 D0 L7

Preferred formation: 4-5-1, flat and packed midfield

With all due respect, Willem II has been the ugly duck of the Eredivisie so far. Having lost all of their first seven matches, and including last year’s matches, their last fourteen matches, it’s difficult to see the ‘Tricolores” stay up this year. Manager Heerkes, partly forced by the absence of three important forward players, turned to a 4-5-1 with a rather flat an packed midfield, playing close to his four man defense.

At the moment it’s difficult to see success coming in Tilburg, especially given the fact their next opponents are Vitesse (away), PSV (home), AZ (away), Twente (home) and Roda (away).

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