Eredivisie season overview after seven matches, part two

Posted on 29 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, and here is part two.

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Groningen

Last year: 8th Current position: 3rd

W4 D3 L0

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, outside wingers

Young manager Pieter Huistra succeeded club-icon Ron Jans to lead Groningen to their best start of the season ever. For a side having trouble scoring goals last season, it must be great to see their new manager bringing the best out of the Pedersen-Matavz tandem upfront. Instead of having a torrid time in the striker role, the Dane Pedersen now flourishes in the man-in-the-hole position, playing behind Slovenian international striker Matavz in an outside winger 4-2-3-1 system.

Having topped the table for a day during match day 5, Groningen are now ranked 3rd and look good in their challenge for European Football qualification. With rivals Utrecht and AZ having to divide their attention between a national and a Europe League campaign already, Groningen will definitely challenge those teams in a run for 4th place and a guarantee of Europa League qualification.

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Heerenveen

Last year: 11th Current position: 10th

W2 D3 L2

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, inside wingers

Europa League qualification will be what Ron Jans had dreamt of when joining Groningen-rival Heerenveen, having led the Groningen team for almost eight years. However, despite a talented and well balanced squad, Jans did not immediately find the balance in his 4-2-3-1 system that he brought to the club. A 2-3-2 start to the season still indicates that everything is very much possible at the Frisian club. After all, it took him three years of relegation battling seasons at Groningen to turn the club into a stable European Football qualification challenge in the five years thereafter.

Having retained the services of popular right winger Roy Beerens and talented left winger Ousmane Assaidi, Heerenveen should succees to bring the best out of talented Bas Dost, who’s tall standing and aerial presence seems to make him an ideal figure for a 4-2-3-1 system. It’s the midfield posing the problems for Jans so far. Once he succeeds in sorting out that particular area, Heerenveen might find themselves among the challengers for the 5th to 8th spots, the European Football play-offs.

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Heracles

Last year: 6th Current position: 17th

W1 D2 L4

Preferred formation: 4-3-3

One of the revelations of the past Eredivisie season, Heracles has experienced a troubled start to the season. So far it looks like manager Verbeek (left for AZ) and talented striker Dost (sold to Heerenveen) are sorely missed in Almelo. Verbeek’s successor Peter Bosz deploys a very comparable 4-3-3 system so far, but seems unable to reproduce the goods of last year’s best ever Eredivisie result for the club. A more detailed match analysis might shine more light here and Heracles will surely be picked for a match review in one of the coming rounds.

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NAC Breda

Last year: 10th Current position: 8th

W3 D2 L2

Preferred formation: 4-3-3

NAC Breda’s start to the season was not particularly trouble-free. A late and generally unforeseen departure of manager Robert Maaskant, who took an offer from Polish side Wisla Krakow, left the club in need for a new manager with already three matches played in the new season. Or not, as it turned out. Former assistants John Karelse and Gert Aandewiel did that well after Maaskant’s departure that NAC’s directors decided to maintain this duo as NAC managers for the remainder of the season. And so far it seems a good decision, given that they’ve managed to gain 10 points from the next four matches. Playing a 4-3-3 formation, NAC combines a solid defense with the raw creativity of winger Leonardo and the attacking experience of Matthew Amoah, who scored four of their nine goals.

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NEC Nijmegen

Last year: 13th Current position: 7th

W3 D1 L3

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, direct game

NEC have smartly set-up their play around target man Björn Vleminckx. Although not the tallest man on the pitch, his physical presence wins NEC a great deal of long balls played towards him. Their line of three behind him are always looking to make smart connections and the return of Lasse Schöne in the attacking midfield role feels like new transfer driving the team forward. The Dane ruptured a cruciate ligament in September last year, but is definately back, as indicated by his three goals and three assists in seven matches.

At present NEC occupies the seventh place in the Eredivisie, but have picked up their points against lower league clubs like VVV and Willem II. It’s only their recent 3-0 home victory against a struggling Feyenoord side that they could really be proud of. Their progress in the next five matches, against club of supposedly comparable stature will tell us their real position quickly enough.

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PSV

Last year: 3rd Current position: 2nd

W4 D3 L0

Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1, outside wingers

Expectations were quite high in Eindhoven at the start of the 2010/11 season () given the fact that their first team has been reinforced on less than three places (Marcelo, Hutchinson, Berg) and even four if you’d include the late 2009/10 transfer of Jeremain Lens from AZ. Furthermore, they’ve managed to retain the services of captain Ibrahim Afellay, Balasz Dszudszak and Ola Toivonen. Yet, their recent form has seen them dropping points away at ADO and Roda and their 1-1 home draw against Sampdoria has not quite been the start they’d wished for their Europa League campaign.

Manager Fred Rutten consequently deploys a 4-2-3-1 system where Lens and Dszudszak mainly perform as outside wingers. Last season’s striker Toivonen has been withdrawn to the man-in-the-hole and seems to have instantly rewarded his manager for playing him in his more natural position by scoring an impressive 6 Eredivisie goals from 5 matches. On-loan striker Berg, on the other hand, has had a difficult start to the season. He seems to miss the ground balls supply of his preferred 4-4-2 system in which he gained his reputation at FC Groningen in the 2007-2009 years.

It remains to be seen whether manager Rutten will switch to a different striker like Koevermans, offering an aerial presence to connect with the outside winger’s crosses, or to switching his wingers around, aiming for an inverted wingers ground ball idea of play, or even to a two striker formation, which seems to suit the qualities of Toivonen and Berg well too.

Posted in: Eredivisie