“I never knew your father, son, but I always respected his resolve.”
— General Sandy “Don’t Give a Damn” Smithers
In this new Eredivisie season, we are lucky to see three newly promoted teams take on the established clubs. RKC Waalwijk pushed their way up after half a decade in the Eerste Divisie. Sparta Rotterdam made a quick resurgence following their relegation in 2017/18, as did FC Twente. The one-time Eredivisie champions tallied 80 points in their only second-tier outing since the early 1980s. Unlike other leagues, however, Dutch sides promoted to the Eredivisie have fared quite well in recent times. FC Emmen are an example of a side who managed to stay up despite their small budget, as were Excelsior Rotterdam before their relegation last spring.
In the second week of the Eredivisie, let us move from the top contenders and focus on those just getting acclimated to top-flight football.
RKC Waalwijk 0-2 AZ Alkmaar
A team losing both of their opening matches is not often a side I’d care to write glowingly about. However, the football I’ve seen from RKC inspired me to make an exception. Waalwijk have the smallest budget out of the 18 Eredivisie sides, €7 million, but seem to have pulled together their resources to mount some semblance of a fight against the drop. My initial impression is of a team that struggles mightily in most facets of the game but can put together a few dangerous attacks per 90 minutes. Many matches will be lost, like this one against AZ, but three points are always possible with a little bit of luck. Even without a goal, striker Mario Bilate has impressed me thus far. Time will tell, but I wouldn’t be extremely perplexed if RKC are not bottom come December.
FC Groningen 1-3 FC Twente
Twente held PSV to a draw on opening day, a phenomenal result for a side that hadn’t played Eredivisie football since May of 2018. Gonzalo Recoba’s side capitalized on this strong start with yet another great result this past week in Groningen. It was an eventful first half, with a missed penalty on both sides and two Groningen players shown red cards. All four goals occurred after the sending offs, but it was nevertheless a great performance from Twente in the face of 9-man Groningen. Note that Keito Nakamura has scored two goals in his first two Twente appearances since his loan move from Gamba Osaka.
Sparta 4-1 VVV Venlo
Rotterdam lost a club to relegation this year in Excelsior. Sparta Rotterdam’s successful Eerste Divisie campaign means the vibrant city still has two clubs in the top flight for 19/20 and, if the opening signs hold true, they will probably remain in the league come May. A draw in De Kuip on opening day against Feyenoord showed that Sparta can hang with the big boys. By scoring four against a lackluster but difficult VVV, Henk Fraser’s side knows they can survive the drop. Whether or not they can keep up this pace is the one question mark.
Featured image pulled from DutchNews.nl.