Ajax Too Strong In De Klassieker
Ajax v Feyenoord
The latest installment in one of world football’s most intense and bitter rivalries takes place on Sunday as Ajax host Feyenoord in the Amsterdam Arena in a game not for the faint-hearted.
A 2-0 win over Groningen at the Amsterdam ArenA last weekend made it five wins from their last five for Ajax and they’ve also kept four clean sheets over that run of games to cement their spot in second in the Eredivisie table, four points behind leaders PSV Eindhoven. Frank de Boer’s side are also undefeated since August in the league and have taken 25 points from the last 27 available, scoring 35 and conceding just five during their fine run.
Rising Polish star Arkadiusz Milik has scored eight times in only nine league starts to top the club’s goalscoring charts after replacing Kolbeinn Sigthorsson as Ajax’s first choice centre forward.
Feyenoord have lost just once in their last 12 outings, – a 4-3 defeat in a thriller against PSV – winning nine of them, including a 3-1 victory over FC Twente on their return from the winter break last weekend and have turned the corner following a poor start to the season which saw them defeated four times in their opening nine league games. Fred Rutten’s side have failed to find the net just once in their last 17 games too and lie third in the table although they remain some way short of the top two, eight points behind Ajax and 12 adrift of PSV.
The much-travelled Colin Kazim-Richards, once of Sheffield United, is Feyenoord’s top scorer in his first season at the club, with seven goals in 14 appearances.
De Boer is missing key players in his defence with both Joel Veltman and Peter Leeuwenburgh out through injury while forward Viktor Fischer is also missing with a thigh problem. Sigthorsson is again expected to have to contend himself with a spot on the bench with Milik likely to be start up top in their preferred 4-3-3 formation.
Feyenoord will be without defender Lucas Woudenberg – who misses out with a knee injury – and attacker Elvis Manu through a groin problem although with both of those seen mainly as squad players Rutten should be able to select his strongest XI.
Head to Head
Full-back Ricardo van Rhijn scored the only goal of the game as Ajax left De Kuip with all three points in the bag last September to make it four wins in a row in this fixture with Feyenoord’s last win coming just under three years ago in January 2012.
That was also the only time the Rotterdam faithful have tasted success over their rivals in the last 17 clashes though while they haven’t won in Amsterdam since August 2005.
On their own patch and in fine form, it’s little surprise to see Ajax as 6/5 favourites to get the better of their opponents and keep up the pressure on the leaders with the visitors big outsiders at 9/4. That looks to be a decent price on the hosts, who should have enough to pull through although I can see Feyenoord breaching the hosts’ rearguard so the 4/7 on both teams scoring should pay off while the 14/5 on each side finding the back of the net in an Ajax win looks worth getting on board with.