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Dutch Football: Decline and Predictions for the Coming Years

Dutch Eredivisie sides have been struggling in European competitions in recent years and, as a result, they will lose their automatic Champions League qualifying spot from 2018/2019. Dutch teams will have to qualify for the group stages of the elite competition, but it is well known that they used to be the dominant forces in the European Cup in the seventies.

The Johan Cruyff era

It has been 22 years since a Dutch club won the Champions League. Ajax defeated Milan in the 1994/1995 final, with Patrick Kluivert scoring the winner for Louis van Gaal’s team in the dying minutes of the match. However, Eredivisie teams dominated European football in the seventies, during Johan Cruyff’s spell at Ajax. Feyenoord won the European Cup in 1970 and then the Amsterdammers clinched three consecutive trophies in the elite competition. Cruyff participated in each of the three European Cup finals (Panathinaikos, Inter, Juventus), but he left the club at the end of the 1972/1973 season. Cruyff is considered the inventor of modern football and, no doubt, he will be remembered as one of the best players in the history of Dutch football. It has to be noted that “Jopie” scored 190 goals in 240 appearances in the league for the Amsterdam Arena outfit.

Dutch clubs failing to keep hold of their star players

It is well known that Ajax owns a football academy which is regarded as one of the best in the world. Ajax are the producers of top-class talents, but the main problem for the Dutch club is that they often fail to keep hold of their star players. The likes of Gregory van der Wiel, Thomas Vermaelen, Jan Vertonghen, Wesley Sneijder, Christian Eriksen and Rafael van der Vaart are the big names who started out at Ajax, but were eventually sold to European giants. It seems as if owners of the Dutch clubs are suffering from the “Arsene Wenger syndrome” as they are running their clubs like cash cows rather than football institutions. When you sell key players before their reach their prime, you are not capable of playing an important role in European competitions and making life difficult for star-studded teams from major leagues. Nowadays Ajax coach Peter Bosz has a number of youngsters to choose from, who are certainly capable of winning the domestic trophy, but many football predictions suggest that they will be struggling in European competitions in the upcoming seasons due to the lack of experience. For example, Patrick Kluivert’s son Justin is a 17-year-old boy who plays for Ajax and I do not believe that he is capable of producing scintillating performances at the highest level.

Tough competition

Given the money that has been pumped into European giants over the last few years, it is no surprise that Dutch teams are not capable of matching the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG etc in the Champions League. Super rich businessmen from all around the globe buy and invest in football clubs from major leagues, whilst Dutch Eredivisie does not seem to attract them. Reigning champions PSV faced the likes of Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Rostov in the group stages of the elite competition earlier this season, but they failed to record a single win in Group D. It is more than obvious that Dutch teams have an uphill task in matches against top European clubs and they will have to make big progress in the forthcoming seasons if they are to regain automatic Champions League spot.

The resurrection of Feyenoord

Feyenoord were the last Dutch club to win the Europa League. De club aan de Maas did well to beat Borussia Dortmund in the 2001/2002 final and they are eager to bring glory days back to De Kuip. Feyenoord are on the right track to win the Eredivisie title and seeing that coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst has a number of very experienced players to choose from, general football predictions suggest that Feyenoord will be playing an important role in the Champions League next season. There has been a two-horse race in the Eredivisie in the 21st century and, no doubt, the awakening of Feyenoord should be a positive thing for the Dutch football. The De Kuip outfit won their last league trophy back in 1999 and they are certainly desperate to put an end to the PSV and Ajax dominance in the Dutch top flight.

All eyes on Amsterdammers

As previously mentioned, PSV suffered elimination in the group stages of the Champions League. Feyenoord failed to make it to the Europa League last 32, whereas AZ Alkmaar suffered elimination in the knockout stages of the competition as well as they were soundly beaten by Olympique Lyon. However, Ajax could make Eredivisie proud in the Europa League this term and they have already helped Netherlands improve their UEFA Club ranking. The Amsterdammers were regarded as favourites according to to beat Legia in the double-header and they did. It remains to be seen if Peter Bosz’s men are capable of going all the way in the Europa League. It has been 25 years since Ajax won their last Europa League (UEFA Cup) trophy and it has to be noted that back then they defeated Torino in the final of the competition.


Eredivisie are going to lose their automatic Champions League qualifying spot from 2018/2019 and that is the fact, but many football experts fear that the Dutch clubs will continue to struggle in European competitions. It seems as if the clubs’ chiefs are forced to sell their starlets before they reach their full potential and, taking everything into account there is a dark future ahead for the Eredivisie teams. Top clubs from major leagues are getting stronger year by year and a number of football predictions go in favour of the decadence of the Dutch football. Speaking of the national championship, the title race has been pretty interesting this season and it remains to be seen who will lift the trophy on May 17: Feyenoord, Ajax or PSV?

About the Author

The analysis of the Dutch Eredivisie was written by Ignacio del Valle Ruiz, the man behind, a website for people who like to read about predictions and analysis for upcoming football matches. They offer a wide range of predictions from the English Premier League to the Europa League and everything in between. Feel free to check them out.

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