Amsterdam giants Ajax host domestic rivals Feyenoord in what promises to be an entertaining game.De Boer Era
The Amsterdam side parted company with head coach Martin Jol hardly a month ago, but the atmosphere at the Amsterdam ArenA has already completely changed ever since Frank de Boer has taken over as caretaker boss.
De Boer is widely known to be the type of coach who gives promising youngsters the chance to prove their worth and this has already been the case during his first two games in charge. Denmark international Christian Eriksen has returned to the starting XI and the young playmaker put in two impressive performance. Additionally, youngsters such as Lorenzo Ebecilio and Aras Ozbiliz got some playing time.
The Godenzonen sit only fourth in the league table at the moment, but they still have every chance of walking away with the league title at the end of the season. Ajax trail table toppers PSV by six points, but have a game in hand.
Ajax can't afford to slip up against Feyenoord though if they are to keep their title ambitions alive. The Europa League hopefuls will be eager to start the second half of the season with a win.
Even though nobody really expected Feyenoord to fight for the league title this term after the departure of experienced players such as Roy Makaay, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Denny Landzaat and Kevin Hofland, nobody would have expected the Stadionclub to be fighting against relegation either.
However, staying clear of the drop zone seems to be Feyenoord's top priority at the moment. After 18 games, the fallen Rotterdam giants have collected only 20 points and they still await their first away win of the season.
They picked up a number of encouraging results in the last weeks of 2010 though and Feyenoord appear to be on their way up. A win against Ajax would mean they're seven points clear of the relegation spots and would give Feyenoord an encouraging start to the second half of the season.
Key man in Feyenoord's improvement in the last couple of weeks of 2010 has been young attacker Luc Castaignos. The 18-year-old is considered to be one of the most promising youngsters around in Europe and he already is Feyenoord's leading goalscorer, despite his tender age.
De Boer will have to make do without the services of the injured Kenneth Vermeer, Florian Jozefzoon, Urby Emanuelson and Nicolas Lodeiro, while attacker Mounir el Hamdaoui will miss the game due to a bout of flu.
Additionally, star player Luis Suarez is unavailable for Sunday's match due to suspension.
Head coach Mario Been will have to make do without a number of first team regulars for Sunday's game. Attackers Jon Dahl Tomasson and Sekou Cisse are still sidelined with various injury problems. Additionally, defenders Dani Fernandez and Bart Schenkeveld are unavailable due to injury, too.
Midfielder Leroy Fer is on his way back, but it appears to be doubtful he'll be match fit in time for the match in Amsterdam.