One of Europe’s most exciting leagues returns to action from Friday night, I’ve picked out five selections from the weekend’s fixtures for anyone who fancies a punt.
FC Twente vs PSV – PSV to win and over 1.5 goals @ 1.44
PSV travel to newly promoted FC Twente for their first game of what should be a promising season. The Eindhoven club narrowly missed out on the title this year, but I’ve already stated that I fancy them to go one better this season and re-claim their crown.
They’ve recruited well, particularly with the signings of Bruma and Timo Baumgartl. An incredibly dynamic attack consisting of any of: Bruma, Donyell Malen, Hirving Lozano, Sam Lammers, Ibrahim Afellay and Steven Bergwijn will take the field. No other side in the league can boast such an array of attacking talent, the 1.5 goals should be a walk in the park. Twente are the best of those promoted form the Eerste Divisie, but after a very comfortable season in the division below I think they’re going to get a shock here.
Vitesse Arnhem vs Ajax – Both teams to score @ 1.5
Vitesse reached the end of last season on a run of scoring two or more goals in every one of their last 14 home matches. They were also beaten just once in front of their own fans throughout the campaign. They’ll be a real tough opponent for an Ajax team who have weakened considerably over the summer, particularly in defence with the loss of Mathijs De Ligt. However, Ajax still possess the fire power in attack. As it stands; Donny Van De Beek, Hakim Ziyech, David Neres and last seasons Eredivisie top scorer: Dusan Tadic, are all in line to start. This fixture is absolutley screaming goals to me.
Feyenoord vs Sparta Rotterdam – Feyenoord -1 handicap @ 1.73
Jaap Staam’s side are the dark horses for the title this season. They’ve lost only one notable player over summer in the form of Tonny Vilhena but have recruited very well with the signings of Leroy Fer and Luciano Narsingh; who both joined on free transfers from Swansea City. I expect them to run the top two close this season, with third place their most likely finishing spot. They face a Sparta side who have gone up and down from the Eredivisie frequently over the past few seasons. They finished as runners up in the Eredivisie but their squad looks thin on the ground to me, there is a distinct lack of proven talent at this level. Despite winning more games than any other second division side last season I think they’re in for a long slog this campaign. The likes of Nicolai Jorgensen and Steven Berghuis could turn this in to a bit of an opening day massacre.
AZ Alkmaar vs Fortuna Sittard – AZ Alkmaar -2 handicap @ 2.6
Alkmaar are for me, the next up when you’re talking about the league’s top sides. I think Feyenoord have pulled away from them slightly on paper with their business this summer. The free signing of Jordy Clasie for AZ is an incredible bit of business and they’ve shifted some of the dead wood from their extended squad. They’re coming in to the back of this one buoyant from an excellent European win away at BK Hacken and I expect them to show no mercy to a very poor Fortuna side.
Sittard shipped 80 goals last season and are second favourites for the drop this campaign, this is the harsh beginning of what will be an extremely arduous season for them. As with Feyenoord, this could be real display of the gulf in class between the top sides of the division and those that will struggle.
Heracles Almelo vs Heerenveen – Over 2.5 goals @ 1.44
If you wanted goals last season, few sides ranked higher on your list that these two. Only Ajax saw more goals per game on average than Heerenveen, who’s games seen a staggering 4.03 goals per game and 71% of their fixtures finished with over 2.5 goals. A figure that was only beaten by four other sides, one of which was their opponents: Heracles.
Heracles saw over 2.5 goals in 74% of their matches last campaign. They also had one of the lowest clean sheet percentages at just 18%, few could better that stat. Except of course, Heerenveen – who managed to keep a clean sheet in just 9% of their matches. 1.44 looks like a cracking price for over 2.5 goals, I feel that if this match was later in the season that would be in the 1.2’s.