So, the European season is back under way tonight as Ajax face Roda JC, which should be a decent opening fixture. Ajax are very likely to win, but there isn’t any real value in the fixture. Instead, I’m going to give three tips from the 8 remaining fixtures to be played over the rest of the weekend.
NEC Nijmegen v FC Groningen (6:45pm – Saturday)
Neither of these two sides have had a particularly good preseason, coming unstuck against the stronger sides. Saying this, NEC have been defensively stronger in preseason, managing two clean sheets and conceding just 4 in 5 games against respectable opposition. Scoring – like last season – remains an issue. Here they are up against the lowest scoring team left from the 12-13 Eredivisie season FC Groningen. Like their opposition, Groningen have struggled for goals preseason, continuing their trend from last season where they managed only 36 goals. Their attack has been bolstered slightly by the loan arrival of Adorjan (Liverpool) and the signing of van der Velden from NEC. It’s a tough game to call as it could really go either way (although value lies with Groningen), so instead I am looking at the goals market and think both sides will start cautiously and whichever side scores first will have enough to make it very difficult for the other side to score. Unders is the way to go here, offering great value…
Utrecht v Go Ahead Eagles (1:30pm – Sunday)
With 11 new signings since they confirmed their first season in the top flight since 1996, Go Ahead Eagles know they have a tough task ahead of them this season. An away tie to Utrecht is by no means a game to ease them in to the top flight. Utrecht squandered a 3-1 lead last week against Luxembourg side Differdange 03. Mulenga will be key for them in this game, and this season as he will look to surpass his 14 league goals last season. Toornstra in midfield is also a key player for the home side. Even with a few departures in defence they should be strong enough to keep out a Go Ahead attack fronted by 32-year-old captain Marnix Kolder. Utrecht will likely be without Sarota, Duplan and striker van der Gun, but they have enough for all three points today, and realistically should win by 2+ goals. Value in the market allows us to profit on any home win…
Vitesse v Heracles (1:30pm – Sunday)
Despite playing on Thursday in a 1-1 draw against Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti, Vitesse will come in to this game confident of a strong start to their Eredivisie campaign. Under new manager Peter Bosz, they are expected to adopt an attacking approach and certainly have the personnel to cause problems for the majority of sides in the league. Losing Bony and van Ginkel to the Premier League (Swansea and Chelsea respectively) has got a few people questioning their ability to recreate their 4th place finish of last season. I have them to finish 5th in my Eredivisie preview, but I expect a convincing win in this fixture. A couple of issues they had in midweek was defending from corners, and allowing too many shots from distance (although some argue that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to restrict the opposition to long range efforts). Kakuta was looking good before having to come off with an injury in the first half, but I rate his replacement Chanturia similarly, so it shouldn’t impact team strength. My model prices Vitesse at 1.56 for the win, so this bet offers real value.
NEC v Groningen – Under 2.50 Goals (2.10 – Paddy Power)
Utrecht v Go Ahead – Home -0.75 (1.90 – Pinnacle)
Vitesse v Heracles – Home -0.75 (1.86 – Bet Victor)