Well thank goodness for that. Ten weeks is way too long to wait for the new season to commence, but at long last the action is back on.
Each month, Dutch Is Life will take a look at all things Eredivisie, with an emphasis on what the Aussie boys are up to in the Lowlands.
Because it’s been more than two months since the season ended, and because Ajax is looking a real chance of landing four straight titles for the first time (something even the great sides of the late 1960s and early 1970s didn’t achieve), DIL couldn’t resist taking a look at the some of the off-season happenings and round one, just to get the ball rolling.
The Big Three
The Amsterdammers began their quest for history with a solid 3-0 home victory against Roda JC, Frank De Boer’s charges looking sharp and striker Bojan Krkíc seemingly at ease in his new surroundings at the ArenA after his big move from Barcelona.
This squad is looking really settled after the administrative dramas of previous seasons and de Boer will be praying the likes of Christian Eriksen, Siem de Jong and Ricardo van Rhijn are not lured away by the European zillionaires.
The same can’t be said for arch-rival Feyenoord, which started its campaign with a 2-1 away loss to Zwolle. Not only that, but Ronald Koeman’s side was undone in the 92nd minute by Guyon Fernandez, a player it let go after apparently not making the grade last season. Ouch.
The other perennial title candidate, PSV, had to work hard to pick up maximum points (3-2) away to ADO Den Haag despite taking a 3-0 lead. The Red and Whites played with style though, and may be the biggest threat to Ajax this season.
It will be interesting to see how Vitesse, which finished fourth in 2012-2013, will cope without last season’s top scorer Wilfried Bony, who has moved to Swansea City.
Regular readers will know how highly Dutch Is Life rates the 24-year-old Cote d’Ivoire striker. Should he remain fit, he will be well worth the £12.5 million ($21.5 million) investment The Jacks have made. He’s already shown what he’s capable of against Malmo.
Tommy Oar played the full game as Utrecht slumped to a 1-1 draw at home to newly promoted Go Ahead Eagles.
Oar provided the assist for Utrecht’s strike, putting it on a plate for defender David Bulthuis with his left-foot free-kick in the 15th minute, although the Eagles’ set-piece defence left a lot to be desired.
Utrecht dominated the opening stanza at the Stadion Galgenwaard and would have been confident of taking all three points at half-time.
After the break it was a different story. A well-worked move just 30 seconds after the resumption resulted in Xander Houtkoop slotting the ball past Robbin Ruiter and ensuring the Deventer outfit left Utrecht with a share of the spoils, and deservedly so.
Adam Sarota and Michael Zullo played no part in the season opener.
There are plenty of new players at Utrecht, but last season’s sixth-placed finisher has already been shocked out of the UEFA Europa league qualifiers by Liechtenstein's Differdange 03 and has now dropped two points at home to a side playing top-flight football for the first time in 17 years. It won’t get any easier when it travels north to face FC Groningen, which cruised to a 4-1 away win to NEC in round one.
There was no place for Aussie striker Eli Babalj as his AZ team-mates fell 4-2 away to Heerenveen, despite enjoying almost 60 per cent possession, while Jason Davidson was suspended as Heracles Almelo lost 3-1 away to Vitesse.
In the second division (Eerste Divisie), 19-year-old attacker Travis Cooper started on the pine but wasn’t used as VVV Venlo drew 0-0 away to FC Eindhoven, while midfielder Andrew Marveggio came on in the 76th minute as Telstar fell 2-0 away to Jong Ajax (Ajax’s youth side).
Nothing much to report after just one round, but in a confidence boost for the promoted outfits, Go Ahead Eagles and Cambuur both took a point from round one.
Goal of the Week
From the ADO-PSV match, a tough call between Danny Holla’s fantastic effort to head into his own net for Den Haag (he scored a quality goal at the right end later in the half) and Jetro Willems’s one-two, run and finish to send PSV 3-0 up. Let’s give it to Willems.
Dutch commentators must be respected. They often need to produce four or more syllables when English-spoken pundits only need one.
Schijnbeweging - impossible to describe how to pronounce this in English, but something like “Shane-bevaking” - literally translates to “apparent movement”. English football callers simply use the word feint.
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Philip Micallef is a football writer with almost 40 years of experience. He has worked for News Limited and now SBS. He is a long-time follower of AC Milan.
A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football.