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Eredivisie Preview: Round 1

Friday

SC Heerenveen – Roda JC

Saturday

Willem II – Vitesse
Sparta – FC Twente
Heracles Almelo – AZ
RKC Waalwijk – FC Utrecht

Sunday

Feyenoord – NEC
FC Groningen – Ajax
ADO Den Haag – NAC Breda
PSV – VVV-Venlo

Heerenveen – Roda

The hosts finished last season as the Eredivisie’s number five and won the KNVB-Beker. De Friezen will be keen to repeat their successful season, but face a tough task in doing so. They lost star player Danijel Pranjic to Bayern Munich and their defence looked far from solid during pre-season.

Roda battled against relegation last term and eventually escaped  the drop after beating Cambuur in the play-offs. Things don’t look much better for the Kerkrade outfit this year as they lost star players Sekou Cisse and Marcel Meeuwis.

Prediction: 2-1

Willem II – Vitesse

The home side parted company with a number of fringe players, but managed to hold on to key players such as Said Boutahar and Frank Demouge. They started last term brilliantly with a victory against Ajax and will be keen to make yet another superb start to the league season.

Vitesse ended in mid-table last season but never looked like they were capable of fighting for a Europa League place. They have the ambition to do better this term, but this won’t be easy after the departures of talented youngster Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nicky Kuiper. Man to watch for the Arnhem side will be Nicky Hofs.

Prediction: 1-2

Sparta – Twente

The Rotterdam outfit will most likely face another season in the lower half of the table. They strengthened their squad with a number of good defenders, but they still don’t look strong enough to secure a top nine finish. It will be exciting to see Kevin Strootman in action again against Twente.

Steve McClaren’s men battled Sporting on Wednesday evening and will probably still be a little bit tired. However, they still have enough class in their team to beat Sparta. New signing Bryan Ruiz will make his Eredivisie debut and he could prove to be crucial in Twente’s search for an away win.  

Prediction: Sparta 1-3 Twente

Heracles Almelo – AZ

Heracles lost their best players this summer and new head coach Gert Jan Verbeek won’t be too confident about his side’s chances against AZ. However, they have posed big sides some serious problems before. Striker Vojtech Schulmeister will be the man to watch for Heracles.

AZ won the league title last year and they’re already in an excellent form again this season. Heerenveen never stood a chance in the Super Cup match last week and were thrashed 5-1 courtesy of an amazing Jeremain Lens performance. The quick attacker will be keen to continue his fine form against the Almelo side.

Prediction: 0-4

RKC Waalwijk – Utrecht

RKC will be keen to stay clear of the drop zone this year after promoting back to the Eredivisie via the play-offs. It remains to be seen whether they are ready for their opener against Utrecht after a far from impressive pre-season. Much will depend on the form of young striker Elison Benschop.

Utrecht have seriously strengthened their squad and they look determined not to miss their start. They have been impressive one day and disappointing the next in the past couple of weeks, but they still look strong enough to grab the victory in Waalwijk. Striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel will be eager to open his Utrecht account.

Prediction: 1-3

Feyenoord – NEC

The Rotterdam side were one of the biggest disappointments of last term and they will be desperate to fight for the title this year. It might be just too soon for that, but Feyenoord were certainly impressive in the friendly against Sampdoria. Coach Mario Been faces his previous team and will do his utmost to start this campaign with a victory.

NEC target a top half finish this year and they have secured the services of a number of promising youngsters to help them achieve their goal. Attackers Erton Fejzullahu and Bjorn Vleminckx will cause the Feyenoord defence some trouble, but they will probably not be good enough to help NEC to a good result.

Prediction: 3-1

Groningen – Ajax

The northern side face a difficult season without star player Marcus Berg, who left the club for HSV. Youngster Serhat Koc will be keen to prove his worth as a good replacement, but the Ajax defence will most likely be ready for him. Man to watch for Groningen is defender Andreas Granqvist, who scored some amazing goals last year.

Ajax have been quite impressive during pre-season while on their English tour, but acted a bit sloppily during the Amsterdam Tournament. They can’t afford to slip up in their season opener again after last year’s disaster and will rely on the individual class of Luis Suarez and Miralem Sulejmani. New signing Demy de Zeeuw will make his official Ajax debut.

Prediction: 1-2

ADO Den Haag – NAC

The hosts have been improving ever since the winter break last term and will be eager to continue their fine form. They will be without highly-rated playmaker Richard Knopper due to injury, but Ricky van der Bergh has the qualities to replace him in a good way. A surprise could be a possibility on Sunday.

NAC have already play some competitive matches as they faced Gandzasar and Polonia Warsaw in the Europa League preliminaries. The Breda side proved to be in a good form, but they will most likely still feel the effects of the trip to Poland from last Thursday. Grabbing a good result won’t be easy.

Prediction: 2-1

PSV – VVV

The Eindhoven side only finished fourth last term and new coach Fred Rutten is determined to fight for the league title again. New signings Andre Ooijer and Orlando Engelaar will prove to be valuable additions to their squad. Sunday’s opponent shouldn’t pose too much of a problem as PSV boast the individual qualities of Ibrahim Afellay and Nordin Amrabat.

VVV are back in the Eredivisie after a one-year absence and will be up for the challenge. They managed to hold on to star player Keisuke Honda and signed Portuguese youngster Diogo Viana on loan from Porto. Nevertheless, PSV will probably prove to be too strong for the Limburg side.

Prediction: 5-1

Stefan Coerts, Goal.com