Over the past few weeks, the Eredivisie was praised as one of the more exciting leagues in Europe. Before round 30 commenced, it was Ajax leading the dance with 63 points, both Vitesse and PSV trailed with only three points and underdog Feyenoord sat on the fourth position with a four-point deficit. Very tight at the top.
Round 30 would showcase the match of the season, as PSV took on Ajax in their Phillips Stadion and a win of the home side would mean that PSV would overtake their rivals due to their immense advantage in goal average terms. [+54 to +38]
To be honest, in my opinion, the title race was already decided before the whistle blew to start the match. It was clear that Ajax with or without victory would take the Eredivisie title. Ajax’s 2-3 victory over PSV just underlines the differences between the Amsterdam and the other title contenders.
As former Ajax-man Jan Vertonghen stated:
Ajax is like a machine, when it’s starts running, it is impossible to stop.
And the Belgium international was right, de Boer’s men went in the game against PSV with a five match win streak and dominated throughout with the final scoreline lenient towards PSV.
To substantiate the previous statement, an analysis of a previous Eredivisie title race is required. Last season, after the winter break, Ajax sat in fourth position, five points behind league leaders AZ. Referring back to the metaphor, the Ajax machine started running, and the side notched up 14 (!) straight wins. The impressive run ensured that Ajax finished first with a four-point advantage over Feyenoord who came second. This season’s end is quite similar to last year’s; all title contenders are spilling points against weaker sides except for Ajax. Although, the machine stuttered a couple of times, it got kick-started and is now running on full power.
Beforehand, PSV was viewed as the most competitive title challenger for Ajax. The only team that had everything in their own hands, winning every game would mean kicking Ajax off their throne. However in my eyes, PSV’s chances of winning the Eredivisie title were slim to none. Their recent form of three wins, one draw and one loss underlined their precariousness. Additionally, the club faced a lot of negative publicity from the actions of Jeremain Lens and Dries Mertens. Concentration lapsed and focus went towards peripheral issues instead of the all important title race. Last but not least, Dick Advocaat’s men are in the cup final against AZ. The KNVB Cup final takes places on the 9th of May, one week before the denouement of the Eredivisie. Sooner or later, PSV would drop points; it was inevitable in their status quo.
Vitesse, albeit in great form (six straight wins) also succumbed under the pressure. The main difference between Ajax and Vitesse is that Ajax fights for the title every year. The club knows how to deal with anxiety and the enormous pressure in comparison to Vitesse, even though Hollywood aan de Rijn have the right ambitions, the club is far from cunning, experienced, and veteran enough to compete with Ajax. Furthermore, Vitesse faces mostly low-ranked teams. On the first sight it would be very advantageous, however the bottom is just as tight as the top, and these low ranked teams are certain to make up for the lack of quality in determination, willpower and fight.
Feyenoord is the underdog for a reason, not only due to their point deficit, but quality-wise. The starting eleven is competitive enough, but Feyenoord does not have a plan B. the quality drops immensely, as soon as a regular is injured or plays a poor match. It was not surprising when Koeman’s side lost against SC Heerenveen when their star player and topscorer Graziano Pelle was suspended.
With last weekend’s result the Eredivisie has turned into an one-team show. Ajax’s dominance is clear, and with only four matches remaining, the five point advantage should see them through to their third consecutive title.