Monday, April 23, 2007

Shote Arveladze for AZ Alkmaar (v Heerenveen), 22 April 2007

After the Premiership, the Dutch Eredivisie is my favourite football league. I have been lucky enough to watch some Dutch football over the years, and whilst the quality isn't always terrific, the teams have great exotic sounding names and some lunatic shirt colours. There's some handy players around too.

PSV have dominated Dutch football for a few years now but this year a remarkable dip in form since the winter break has seen them overhauled in the race for the title. From being ten points clear at the turn of the year, next weekend the Dutch league is heading for the most exciting climax in decades.

Louis van Gaal's AZ side, a resurgent Ajax and Koeman's PSV are currently all tied on the same 72 points with one match of the season to go. PSV have the easier tie on paper (at home to Vitesse) whilst Ajax travel to lowly Willem II and AZ must go to struggling Excelsior.

In the event of a tie, goal difference will decide the title and AZ are in pole position with +53 from Ajax's +47 and PSV's +46. Barring a miracle, an AZ victory should see the little Northern club celebrate only their second ever League title.

An AZ triumph would end the "big three"'s stranglehold on Dutch football in that only one team bar Ajax, PSV or Feyenoord has won the League since 1964 (AZ in 1981). (And you thought the Premiership was boring..!)

So, from 13.30pm next Sunday my eyes will be on the Dutch title race. One of these years, my team (NEC) might be involved. I doubt it, though....


Anonymous said...

Over the past few years it's been nice to see another team from Holland, AZ, do so well, having seem them play a few European cup-ties on TV.

Everyone loves competition at the top and it can only make the league better.

Anonymous said...

Got a lot of affection for AZ. Saw AZ v Groningen in a Friday evening league game in 2002 - one of my top three football trips ever - a 4-1 win for AZ in a ground (since departed) that had all the hallmarks of a community-friendly club. I distinctly remember there being no sense of any refreshments franchise, but instead, a team of old ladies making ham sandwiches right there before our very eyes. In fact, that bit reminded me of Spennymoor United in the 80s. I also recall the AZ star striker having a good quality football name - Barry van Galen.