AZ Alkmaar and Vitesse Arnheim will contest an unlikely KNVB Cup final in Amsterdam this week.
Dutch football betting fans were not expecting these sides to reach the final. In fact, the semi-final line-up for the Cup was also a major surprise this season.
This big boys — Ajax, Eindhoven, Heerenveen and Feyenoord — all fell in earlier rounds to arguably inferior opponents.
It leaves AZ v Vitesse to contest the final and here we look at the best bets and how they reached this stage.
AZ’s route to the final
It’s been a largely successful season for AZ considering how they started the campaign. Top scorer Vincent Janssen was sold to Tottenham for €20million and the team initially coped well in his absence. But balancing Eredivisie and Europa League games soon caught up with AZ. They won just one league game in seven between September and November to effectively end any hopes of a title push.
The best AZ could hope for from then on was qualifying for the Europa League and going for the KNVB Cup. And they’ve done both with aggression. Following their 5-2 defeat to Feyenoord in March, Az won three in six league games to push into fifth place. Meanwhile in the Cup, AZ were blessed by a relatively easy run until a quarter-final clash with Heerenveen, which they won 1-0. AZ edged Eerste Divisie side Cambuur 3-2 on penalties in the semi-final to reach Sunday’s showdown.
AZ are narrow 2.48 favourites to win the KNVB Cup. They won their fourth and most recent Cup in 2013 with Dick Advocaat in charge.
Vitesse’s route to the final
Vitesse are just one point behind AZ in the Eredivisie — and a recent dip in form may cost them fifth place in the table. Two defeats in a row against Excelsior and Feyenoord will have alarmed manager Henk Fraser.
The fact that Vitesse have not drawn a game in their last 15 outings is another for Unibet betting fans to ponder. Will Vitesse go all out for the win on Sunday, or will they be outplayed by AZ? It appears unlikely that Fraser will instruct his team to sit back. They are actually a good bet at 2.75 to win. Shrewd Dutch football betting fans may want to back a Double Chance on AZ/Vitesse at 1.30.
AZ v Vitesse head to head record
AZ hold the better form over the past eight years against Vitesse, with a W9 D4 L3 record. But this season Vitesse claimed the upper hand, drawing 2-2 in Alkmaar (after being 2-0 up!) and beating AZ 2-1 at home thanks to a 51st-minute Nathan goal. Chelsea loanees Nathan and Lewis Baker both scored that day. Neither have scored since.
KNVB Cup first goalscorer bets
One man immediately stands out as the top candidate to score first in the KNVB Cup final. Ricky van Wolfswinkel has scored 18 goals in 30 games for Vitesse this season. The former Norwich player, who in 2013 cost the Canaries over €11m, arrived at Vitesse last summer for around €800,000. And he has been exceptional.
Van Wolfswinkel has not gone more than two Eredivisie games without a goal. He is 6.00 to score first on Sunday, which is a great price.
However, AZ star Wout Weghorst (5.60 to score first) is also worth considering in the first goalscorer markets. Weghorst joined from Heracles last summer and after a mixed season has hit form, scoring in three of his last six league games. The Ducthman is not as technically gifted as Janssen — the man he replaced — but AZ are set up to play to his strengths and will look to find the forward quickly when on the attack.