What has happened to Feyenoord? Their blistering pace that set the Eredivisie alight at the start of the season has completely died.
After winning their first nine Dutch league games they have gone on to claim just one victory in five. This is concerning for Eredivisie betting fans who backed them earlier this season to win the league.
But not so for Ajax backers. The Lancieri have finally clicked and last weekend drew level with Feyenoord on 33 points. Only goal difference splits the two sides now, with defending champions Eindhoven four points off the pace.
Will Ajax take advantage of Feyenoord’s slump and gain the lead in the Eredivisie this weekend? Let’s examine both teams as they prepare to face ‘inferior’ opponents.
Feyenoord v Sparta: Watch out for the draw
Feyenoord’s recent slump has come at a bad time — but they can correct their form and regain control of the title race. It has coincided with demoralising results in the Europa League that put their progression hopes in jeopardy. Ajax ended Feyenoord’s 100 per cent start to the season with a draw in Rotterdam, which was the fair result. But the 1-1 scoreline knocked some confidence out of the players.
The 1-0 defeat to Go Ahead Eagles before the November international break was very worrying. Granted, Feyenoord had travelled to Luhansk and suffered a 1-0 defeat three days before, but they were still heavy favourites to beat Go Ahead in the football odds.
Yet what is most concerning are the goals they have suddenly started leaking. They’ve kept just one clean sheet in seven games and were only rescued from defeat in the 3-3 draw in Utrecht on Sunday by stoppage-time goals from Nicolai Jørgensen and Michiel Kramer.
Centre-back Terrence Kongolo has missed the last three games and it shows. Against Sparta this Sunday Feyenoord are 1.30 to win. But the Rotterdam derby is not a fun fixture to go into out of form.
Sparta’s form is erratic (DDLDWLD) and they are vulnerable to conceding goals. But they have found plenty of joy going forward, scoring two goals or more in each of their last four games. So, the best bet here is to back both teams to score, with a draw at 4.65 also a decent price.
Ajax v Groningen: Back the Lancieri for the win
Immediately after Feyenoord v Sparta, Ajax host Groningen in Amsterdam. Ajax have never really been off the pace this season. They suffered a shock defeat to Willem II in August and were also held to a draw with Roda before the clash with Feyenoord.
That Feyenoord draw maintained Ajax manager Giovani Van Bronckhorst’s belief that this side is the best in Dutch football right now. They are playing a balance of entertaining and pragmatic football to grind past teams and defensively they have tightened up well.
No goals conceded in three games is a big feat for Ajax, who are starting to regain their defensive form that almost won them the league title last season. Ajax have already conceded 11 goals this term, compared to the 21 let in during the whole of the 2015/16 campaign.
They face a Groningen side in form after going three Eredivisie games without defeat (DWW) and who smashed Zwolle 4-0 away last weekend. Striker Tom van Weert is in fine form in front of goal with three in three games. He will be the danger man to this Ajax defence on Sunday.
But realistically the Lancieri should be winning this game comfortably and they are 1.20 to do so.