The Dutch make fun of their own league, calling the Eredivisie the ‘Mickey Mouse league’. Easy mistakes, an awful lot of wrong passes and players that can hardly be called footballers are things that are seen week in week out by the Dutch. Despite that, the Eredivisie is the league to watch for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.
Just like the Dutch, a few regard the league as a massive power in Europe. The influx of capital to larger leagues and the Bosman ruling have ensured that every club in the Eredivisie must sell its best players to survive. Never again will a Dutch side sweep across Europe in the way that Ajax did in 1995.
You will get higher quality football in other leagues, but if you’re looking for entertaining matches in Europe, the Netherlands is the place to go. This article gives you four reasons why.
Fight for the Title
Where the most prominent leagues in Europe are anything but up for a bit of drama, the Eredivisie is far from that. The top two of the Premier League are seperated by 12 points, while the La Liga leaders have a 13 point gap over 2nd place. The Bundesliga title is all but decided with a 20 point lead at the top. One wouldn’t dare to bet against Juventus holding onto their 9 point lead in the Serie A either. The Eredivisie, and the French Ligue 1, are the two leagues that are yet to be decided.
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For a football enthusiast to gain interest in the Dutch league, there would need to be entertainment value. A tight pack near the top of the table is exactly what you find in the Eredivisie. The top four is seperated by just three points. Ajax tops the league table with 54 points, PSV and Feyenoord follow with both at 53 and Vitesse completes the top four with 51 points. With eight games remaning, you could see plenty of movement at the top. A slight dip in form on one weekend could prove to be costly as teams all around are looking to capitalise. This is one title race that could go right down to the wire!
PSV lost away to Heerenveen (2-1) last weekend so Ajax took over the first place after a win against PEC Zwolle (3-0) in the Amsterdam ArenA. It’s the first time this season the Dutch giants lead the race for the Championship with a chance to secure a hat-trick of Eredivisie titles. A feat they haven’t achieved since the glorious period of the mid 90s.
Vitesse are the obvious surprise packages, as the exploits of the leagues top scorer- Wilfried Bony, have helped the club to a surprise title contention role leading up to the end of the campaign.
If there’s one thing the Eredivisie is commonly known for, it’s for nurturing young talent. Year in, year out the Dutch produces some of the finest talents around the world. In every top league in Europe you can find players with heritage in the Eredivisie: Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben amongst others. 2013 is no different to previous years as the league is loaded with young prospects.
The league has always been a fantastic place for young players to develop themselves and become technically more sound. The circumstances in Holland are close to perfect. Young players get regular first team opportunities and time to adapt to football at its highest level.
It’s inevitably the best players who will leave because their professional and financial interests have to be looked after. Christian Eriksen, Wilfried Bony, Bruno Martins Indi, Leroy Fer and Kevin Strootman are all players who could make the move abroad after this season after being linked to some of Europe’s biggest sides. Watching them now would give you an idea what kind of impact they can make down the road.
Losing players like that will certainly have an impact on the league. Fortunately for the Eredivisie there will always be players waiting to take the center of the stage. Upcoming players like Jordy Clasie, Viktor Fischer, Marco van Ginkel, Jurgen Locadia, Jean-Paul Boëtius and Tonny Vilhena (the last two are 18 and were called up to the recent Dutch senior squad) are ready to run riot in the Dutch league.
Every weekend there’s a surprising result in the Eredivise. There’s literally neither rhyme no reason in the games. No team in this league is untouchable.
For example, recently promoted PEC Zwolle has beaten PSV away from home and Feyenoord in their own IJsseldelta stadium. ADO Den Haag and Roda JC both took one point home from Ajax’s Amsterdam ArenA and Heerenveen were the strongest in last weekend’s game against PSV.
FC Twente led the league for quite a bit of the season. In 2013 they have not won a single league game. Steve McClaren has thrown in the towel and they’re currently sitting sixth.
You could try to go into each week of fixtures with a general idea of how the matches will play out, then the script will be flipped as the teams near the top of the table drop points.
The Netherlands are a country that covets its attacking football. The only thing better than one goal is two goals. It all goes back to the 70’s when Rinus Michels introduced Total Football. His and Stevan Kovac’s Ajax won the Champions League three times in a row. If it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be seeing the kind of beautiful football Barcelona is showing the world.
The style has been largely outmoded, but the Dutch attacking ideal is still alive. During the 2011/12 season, the Eredivisie finished second in Europe in terms of goals per game at 3.26. Third is the Jupiler League, the Dutch second division.
It’s almost one of the league’s guidelines that a manager puts out his team in 4-3-3 formation. Ajax plays it the closest to the model Rinus Michels introduced in the 70’s. Attacking football, high pressure and out-and-out wingers (the Flying Dutchman).
Managers who chose to play different, more pragmatic football, are often ostracised by the majority of supporters. Just a win doesn’t matter. Any team has to win with beautiful, attacking and attractive football.
This idea behind Dutch football makes the Eredivisie enjoyable to watch. Not very often a team will enter to pitch with the idea to sit back and hit on the counter.
The build up to the end of the Eredivisie is in full flow and no one can tell who’ll be standing with the trophy in their hands at the end. It promises to be one exciting journey where everything is possible.
This piece was written by Babette van Haaren. Follow her on twitter @BabettevHaaren
Featured image was taken from talksport.co.uk