Who is leading the Dutch Eredivisie after four (kind of) weeks? No, it’s not reigning champions and European semi-finalists Ajax Amsterdam. Nor is it the recently Lozano-less PSV Eindhoven, nor stalwarts Feyenoord Rotterdam nor the exciting AZ Alkmaar or Vitesse Arnhem. No, it’s the lovely Willem II Tilburg, a side poised for a struggle this campaign after losing its star striker two transfer windows in a row. It’s early and their wins haven’t been overly impressive, but we have to pay our dues to the team who sits top going into Saturday.
Willem II kicked off the campaign with a resounding 3-1 away victory in Zwolle before losing to Vitesse. However, a great recovery against Fortuna Sittard and a brilliant attacking performance against FC Emmen sees Adrie Koster’s side with nine points from four. They may only sit top due to the likes of Ajax and PSV having missed out on last week’s matches, but the signs are good. A Dutch football week replete with European advancement (Ajax, PSV, AZ, Feyenoord) is top of mind for fans, but Willem II have thoroughly impressed above most others.
Their victory over Emmen was certainly expected. The fashion in which Willem II dominated the match, however, was a performance to be expected from a top side when facing a bottom team, in monetary strength, at home.
Without Kjell Scherpen, Emmen can expect to concede a fair few goals away from home this season. However, there wasn’t much Dennis Telgenkamp could do about the home side’s incisive attacking moves. Although they didn’t control possession, Willem II scored two through wide man Mats Köhlert, the first after a beautiful dribble move and outside-of-the-foot curler. Marko Kolar’s successful penalty sandwiched between the two Köhlert strikes in consecutive order offered a chance for Emmen to take something from this match week. Despite that and their controlling of the ball, Emmen were simply too open to counter-attacks and marauding runs from Köhlert and Che Nunnely.
Take everything with a grain of salt, though. That Willem II are top of the league should come as a surprise to few considering the competition they’ve faced thus far. It’s a match against an inconsistent but always talented Feyenoord on Sunday followed by a visit to Heracles Almelo in the near schedule for Koster’s side, two matches sure to test their resolve and overall ability to compete atop the league. However, based on what I’ve seen, specifically from their attacking unit, Willem II could muster four points over the next couple weeks.
Featured image from @OptaJohan on Twitter.