Preview: Feyenoord vs. Ajax

Preview: Feyenoord vs. Ajax

Placed first and second in the Eredivisie with seven games to go, old foes Feyenoord and Ajax turn their attention to the KNVB Beker semi-finals on Wednesday, when they meet at De Kuip.

As Dutch football’s most storied fixture, De Klassieker always quickens the pulse for fans on both sides of the divide, but only one team will reach the final later this month.

Staying on course to take Ajax’s title by finishing top dogs in the Netherlands, Feyenoord saw off local rivals Sparta Rotterdam at the weekend, with a 3-1 away win taking them eight points clear at the top of the table.

After taking a 12th-minute lead, Arne Slot’s side were pegged back before half time, but Santiago Gimenez and David Hancko both struck in the second half to take a big step towards the club’s first Eredivisie crown since 2017.

Backing up their crucial 3-2 victory in Amsterdam just before the international break, they are therefore well-placed to secure some silverware from an impressive season to date – and it could yet prove a particularly special year for the Rotterdam side.

Set to meet Roma in the Europa League quarter-finals later this month – a tie which offers the chance for revenge after they lost to the Giallorossi in last year’s Conference League final – Feyenoord would also seal a date with either PSV or rank outsiders Spakenburg in the Dutch Cup decider by beating Ajax this week.

Now 20 matches unbeaten – and having won each of their last seven in the league – they occupy the unfamiliar position of starting favourites against opponents who have recently ruled the roost in Dutch football.

However, this century-old fixture which embodies an enduring rivalry between the cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam often pays no heed to form.

Indeed, Ajax may rely on ‘the magic of the cup’ inspiring them to topple Feyenoord at an always intimidating De Kuip, as recent results have left their trophy hopes hanging by a thread.

A disappointing goalless draw at the weekend saw them slip further behind Wednesday’s hosts in the title race, as they failed to beat Go Ahead Eagles for the fourth league match in a row.

With just one point from their last two games, John Heitinga’s second-placed side have been caught by PSV, and before the campaign’s conclusion they still have to visit both the Eindhoven club and Twente, in addition to hosting AZ – Champions League qualification is therefore far from a formality.

Out of Europe too, following a dismal Champions League group stage campaign and then exiting the Europa League to Union Berlin, it is the KNVB Beker which is their most realistic route to salvaging silverware from a season in which Alfred Schreuder was sacked halfway through due to his team’s under-performance.

A product of the club’s famed academy during the 1990s, Heitinga will hold the fort until the summer, but helping Ajax to cup glory this month – the final is set for April 30, also at De Kuip – could aid his claims for a full-time appointment.

Feyenoord KNVB Beker form:

Feyenoord form (all competitions):

Ajax KNVB Beker form:

Ajax form (all competitions):

We say: Feyenoord 2-1 Ajax
Able to score plenty of goals from a variety of sources – they have registered 15 in their last four matches – Feyenoord can almost certainly find the net at least once in front of their own fans.

As Ajax are still scratching around for some fluency, a second Klassieker success in the space of a few weeks will send the Rotterdammers through to the final.

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