By Stefan Coerts
Traditionally, the English, Italian and Spanish leagues receive much more attention in the media and from fans than any other league in Europe.
Nevertheless, Goal.com has plenty more to offer as the Dutch Eredivisie gets its fair share of attention, too. After almost three months without league action, the clubs from Netherlands' top tier are raring to go again as matchday 1 takes place at the weekend.
Below, we take a look at the reasons why it's well worth keeping an eye on the Eredivisie in the next ten months. The Dutch league can be seen live at www.livedutcheredivisie.tv.
|1. Future stars
The Eredivisie might no longer be one of Europe's top leagues, but the Dutch competition is still the perfect place to kick-start any promising career. Legendary players such as Romario, Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy all plied their trade in Holland at one stage and more recently Luis Suarez, Ibrahim Afellay and Maarten Stekelenburg made the step from the Netherlands' top tier to one of Europe's finest clubs.
Despite the recent exodus of stars, the Eredivisie still has plenty to offer with exciting youngsters such as Christian Eriksen, Nacer Chadli, Dusan Tadic, Tim Matavz and Oussama Assaidi all eager to make an impact this term and the bigger clubs from England, Germany, Italy and Spain will continue to keep a close eye on what's going on in Holland.
|2. Lots of goals
Whereas a competition like Serie A is notorious for its lack of goals, the Eredivisie is world renowned for its abundance of successful strikes. This is largely down to the positive attitude that the majority of the clubs show on the pitch. Even relegation candidates such as Excelsior, De Graafschap, RKC and VVV prefer to go down in entertaining fashion rather than scraping out a draw with a negative style of play.
The impressive amount of attacking talent at the league's top clubs is a guarantee for entertainment, and Ajax and PSV in particular could very well hit 100 goals this term if they find top form. Theo Janssen, who netted 13 times last Eredivisie campaign, is the Amsterdam side's most defensive minded player in midfield, while PSV will be looking towards Kevin Strootman (six goals in 30 appearances last year) to provide his defence with cover whenever needed.
|3. Netherlands' very own Manchester City/Malaga/PSG
In the past few years, several clubs have been taken over by rich owners - Manchester City, Malaga and Paris Saint-Germain have all made the headlines in recent seasons for their impressive activity on the transfer market and their outrageous ambitions. Like the aforementioned clubs, Eredivisie outfit Vitesse fell into the hands of a sugardaddy as well in the summer of 2010.
Merab Jordania's ambition is to win the league title by 2013 and although the Arnhem side failed to impress on the pitch last term (they only just escaped relegation), there's always something to talk about at the GelreDome. Players have come and gone ever since the arrival of Jordania and two coaches have already been sacked under the Georgian businessman's regime.
With John van den Brom as Vitesse's new head coach, the Arnhem side actually have reasons to be happy again as the young tactician has a clear vision of what he wants. There's little doubt that a few more players will arrive in the remainder of the transfer window and Vitesse could be one of the surprises of the 2011-12 season.
|4. Excitement right until the end
The 2010-11 Eredivisie campaign offered one of the most breathtaking finishes European football has seen in the past couple of years as Ajax beat Twente on matchday 34 to leapfrog them in the table and win the title. Naturally, the Amsterdam side's fans wouldn't have been concerned had their beloved team decided the title race a few weeks earlier, but there's no denying that the end of last year's league campaign was rather spectacular. The astonishing finish was no special case though as the 09-10 campaign wasn't decided until the final round either, while 2007's thriller will forever be on the minds of the Dutch football fans, too.
The contrast with leagues like the Bundesliga and La Liga couldn't have been bigger as those competitions were pretty much decided by January. The Dutch top tier is likely to again confirm its status as one of the most intense leagues in Europe as Ajax, Twente and PSV all seem to be pretty even matches for each other.
|5. No clear favourites
Every league has its traditional big clubs that always fight it out among themselves when the prizes are handed out at the end of the season. Nevertheless, in the Netherlands, this situation has changed in the past couple of years as a club like Feyenoord are no longer among the league's finest, while Twente and AZ have nicely filled up their respective trophy cabinets.
Ajax and PSV are still among the favourites to win the Eredivisie, but the fact the past four seasons have had as many different winners is the perfect proof that anything can happen in the Netherlands. Groningen came close to entering the title race last term - but eventually had to settle for fifth spot in the table following a poor run of form after the winter break - and a club like Heerenveen has the potential to cause an upset this season.
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