This season in the Netherlands will start, just as usual with the Dutch Super Cup. The last five Johan Cruijff Schaal finals have attracted an average of 42.000 fans, but the upcoming clash between FC Groningen and PSV will pull around 24,000 into the stadium, mainly due to the ticket prices.ill, it will be an interesting match between the last champions (PSV) and the last cup winner (FC Groningen) says Martijn Hilhorst. Both clubs have seen players come and go this transfer window. PSV lost a bunch of players including: Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, Karim Rekik, but saw Davy Pröpper, Gaston Pereiro & Maxime Lestienne arriving in return. FC Groningen lost Tjaronn Chery, their attacking midfielder to Queens Park Rangers and their captain Maikel Kieftenbeld left for Birmingham City. But, arguably, is not that weakened with Jesper Drost, Bryan Linssen & Abel Tamata joining their squad. The match will be played in the Amsterdam Arena, the stadium of Ajax. The official name of the Dutch Super Cup is the ‘Johan Cruijff Schaal’. Fans from both sides are not that inspired to pay a large sum of money to buy a ticket and travel to Amsterdam. It is expected that only 24,000 fans will be in attendance. Image1 It’s the first official match for both sides, so it is hard to predict which players will be vital this Sunday, but based on quality expect Luuk de Jong (PSV) and ex Manchester City-player Albert Rusnák (Groningen) to make an impact. The latter played for both SC Cambuur and FC Groningen last season and impressed the Dutch fans with his skills, goals and great range of passing. He will – most likely – face Jorrit Hendrix as his direct opponent and young Hendrix will have his hands full. Rusnák can be described as a free roaming attacking midfielder who is constantly on the move. On the other side we have Luuk de Jong. The striker was abysmal in the foreign competitions at Borussia Monchengladbach and Newcastle United, but got fit, picked up his game and netted 20 in 32 matches as last season was heaven on earth for the Dutch striker. Receiving crosses from both sides and although Depay did not cross much, but the left-back Jetro Willems behind him was giving constantly crosses. This reflects in his assists: 13 with seven on them were for De Jong. On the other side he had right-winger Luciano Narsingh, who provided ten assists last season. It is truly exciting to see both clubs in their first official match of the season. PSV were absolutely dominant last season, however Andres Guardado and Jetro Willems both will not play this Sunday. The odds say that it should be an easy victory for PSV, but we expect a close match.


Date: 2-8-2015 (17.00PM UK Time) UK TV: None Stadium: Amsterdam ArenA Referee: Bas Nijhuis Assistants: Rob van de Ven / Charl Schaap Fourth Official: Angelo Boonman

Probable Line-Ups

FC Groningen (4-3-3): Padt; Hateboer, Botteghin, Lindgren, Tamata; Hiariej, Rusnák, Tibbling; Antonia, De Leeuw, Linssen. PSV  (4-3-3): Zoet; Arias, Bruma, Isimat, Poulsen; Hendrix, Pröpper, Maher; Narsingh, De Jong, Lestienne. Name-MartijnHilhorst Click on Martijn’s name above to follow him on Twitter







PEC Zwolle defeated Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 in Amsterdam to win the 2014 Johan Cruijff Schaal. The Amsterdammers won their fourth consecutive league title last year while the Blauwvingers defeated Ajax handily to win their first ever KNVB Beker. 

Ajax came into the match with a few new faces and some revenge to enact. Zwolle started the match looking to build off last year’s cup final win and start the 2014-2015 campaign off on a bright note.

The game began with Ajax nearly netting a chance inside of ten minutes, only to hit the post. As a result of the chance, new acquisition Nick Viergever picked up a knee injury. He tried to carry on but was eventually replaced by South African midfielder Thulani Serero.

The early chance was as close as Ajax would get all evening. Much of the game was played at nothing more than a walking pace. Ajax struggled to break down the Zwolle defence and create opportunities and the best chances came from a few Lasse Schöne free-kicks, with Zwolle keeper Diederik Boer making a couple class saves.

Ajax were missing three of their normal starters in Jasper Cillessen, Daley Blind and Joël Veltman. All three are resting after playing in the World Cup for the Dutch National Team. While Kenneth Vermeer filled in capably for Cillessen, the absence of Veltman and Blind were evident.

The backline looked in disarray at times as Nicolai Boilesen and Ruben Ligeon gave away too much space and let the Zwolle attackers in behind too often. Ligeon had a poor afternoon, giving the ball away far too easily, finding himself out of position time and time again and adding very little in attack and build-up play.

Niklas Moisander looked frustrated throughout the night, playing alongside three relatively inexperienced defenders in Boilesen, Mike van der Hoorn and Ligeon. The Zwolle attackers took advantage, as they had their way on the wings. The likes of Stef Nijland, Mustafa Saymak, Jesper Drost and Kamohelo Mokotjo created problems for the Ajax midfield and defence all match. Going forward, Blind’s penetrating passing ability was missed. The only player who dared to play such balls was Davy Klaassen, however most were unsuccessful. Klaassen played in a deeper role than he is used to, and it showed as he was largely ineffective.

For Zwolle, Mokotjo controlled the defensive midfield and played the role that Blind typically plays for Ajax. Mokotjo was crucial for Zwolle as he dispossessed the Ajax attack numerous times and started a few dangerous counters. He assisted Zwolle’s only goal on one of these said counters, a brilliant cross to Stef Nijland. Mokotjo has been linked to Ajax recently and his performance today will only fuel those transfer talks.

Another key cog for Zwolle was goalkeeper Diederik Boer, ironically also linked with a move to Ajax this summer. Boer controlled his penalty area confidently throughout the match He added two nice saves on Lasse Schöne free-kicks to go along with his quality distribution.

The talk around Ajax after this match will be whether another attacking option is needed. Loanee Arkadiusz Milik was very quiet while Ricardo Kishna and Ahmed El Ghazi are still very young, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is said to be on his way out and Viktor Fischer is out injured until the new year.

In Zwolle, expectations are higher than ever. Can Ron Jans deliver? After two straight trophy wins against Ajax, the Blauwvingers’ faithful believe anything is possible. Another deep KNVB Beker run, a competitive Europa League showing, and a top six finish would be a success. They have the manager and squad to do it.


AJAX: Vermeer, Ligeon, Van der Hoorn, Moisander, Boilesen, Klaassen, Viergever (Serero 39), Andersen, Schöne, Milik (Sigthorsson 82), Kishna (El Ghazi 60).

SUBS NOT USED: Leeuwenbergh, Tete, Denswil, Duarte.

GOALS: None.

BOOKINGS: Moisander 45.

ZWOLLE: Boer, Van Polen, Sainsbury, Broerse, Van Hintum, Mokotjo, Rienstra, Saymak, Drost, Thomas (Karagounis 62), Nijland (Ioannidis 68).

SUBS NOT USED: De Jong, Lam, Pereira, Dekker, Mahmudov.

GOALS: Nijland 55.

BOOKINGS: Van Polen 50, Rienstra 54, Van Hintum 83, Ioannidis 90.


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The Amsterdam Arena will host the Johan Cruijff Schaal this Sunday afternoon, as Frank de Boer’s Ajax will look for retribution in their own backyard against Ron Jans’s PEC Zwolle by Will Burns.

Zwolle smashed five past the Amsterdammers in the KNVB Beker final last April at De Kuip, home of Feyenoord. The Dutch cup is only domestic championship that has evaded De Boer in his tenure in Amsterdam and Ajax headed into Rotterdam that day as heavy favourites. The Blauwvingers defied all the odds and not only defeated the reigning Eredivisie champions, but desecrated them.

Ajax got off to the dream start as defender Ricardo van Rhijn hit a long range effort into the roof of Diederik Boer’s goal after just three minutes. However, the Ajax fans turned their celebrations into a ten-minute stoppage in the match after hurling fireworks onto the De Kuip pitch. After the pleading from the stewards and police to stop the flare throwing, Ajax legend Edwin van der Sar entered the fray to plead with the disrupters which seemed to finally do the trick.

Those same fans were feeling rather foolish after the restart as Zwolle emerged full of spark (pun intended) and a deflected shot from young New Zealander Ryan Thomas levelled the scores right in front of the troublesome crowd area. As Jans had just finished his punching of the air on the sidelines, Thomas smashed home a second goal minutes later, latching on a rebound after a Maikel van der Werff free-kick cannoned back of the post. An inspirational performance from the impressive Kamohelo Mokotjo, capped off a breakthrough season for the South African midfielder, when he fed on-loan Feyenoord striker Guyon Fernandez in for a third after 22 minutes of play. Fernandez added a fourth before half-time before Bram van Polen hammered the final nail into Ajax’s coffin firing home from a corner just five minutes after the interval. Frank de Boer, his team and their fans trudged on their coaches that night with the tail firmly between their legs.

Highlights below of Zwolle’s 5-1 cup final win over Ajax – via Ajax TV

Both sides will line up with many changes to their squads over the summer. Ajax have lost creative attacker Siem de Jong to Newcastle United and veteran Danish holding midfielder Christian Poulsen, now at the ripe old age of 34, was surplus to requirements as his contract whittled down.

The recruitment this summer has seen some unproven but promising young talent arrive in Amsterdam. The highly-rated Richairo Zivkovic joined from FC Groningen and looks to play a massive part in Ajax’s defence of the Eredivisie title, as Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik was loaned in from Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. The 20-year-old Milik has impressed in pre-season, notching goals in many of the friendlies and looks like he could be a real threat instead of relying on Icelander Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who only grabbed ten goals last season. Eventually signing a four-year deal is Robert Muric, 18-year-old Croatian midfielder, who’s move dragged on throughout the months after a contract wrangle with Dinamo Zagreb. The defence was also improved as Nick Viergever joined from rivals AZ Alkmaar for a fee of €2.5million.

In Zwolle, the core of the team has been diminished, which is very disappointing especially when the side are due to compete in European Football for the first time in their history. Big defender Darryl Lachman, a rock in the centre of defence last year, move onto FC Twente and striking pair Guyon Fernandez (a free agent after being released from Feyenoord) and Fred Benson (Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol) have moved on. Luckily for Jans, he still has Mokotjo, the star of the show, at his selction even though Frank de Boer has spoke about taking the midfielder and goalkeeper Diederik Boer to Ajax last month.

Jans has recruited well and could have unearthed a gem by signing Ben Rienstra from Heracles Almelo. Rienstra is a strong defensive midfielder that will protect the back four as well provide Mokotjo with support. Incoming from AZ Alkmaar is Finnish Under-21 international centre-back Thomas Lam as goalkeeper Boy de Jong, aged 20, signed on following his release from Feyenoord. Replacing Fernandez and Benson in attack are two Greek strikers, both with experience in German football. Twenty-year old centre forward Nikos Ioannidis arrives on a two-year loan with an option to buy from Olympiakos after scoring 6 goals in 30 games last season for Hansa Rostock. Finally, Dimitrios Ferfelis arrives from TuS Koblenz after notching 17 goals in 52 games over the last two terms in Regionalliga Südwest division.

As for the history between the two clubs, obviously, Ajax possesses the far superior record in meetings. In nine prior encounters, the Amsterdam giants have won seven, drawn one and the cup final defeat was their first and only loss so far.

Zwolle will put up a fight in this encounter; however, Ajax will desire to use this game as a launching pad for another successful season. Ajax needs vengeance, while Zwolle wants another scalp and their first Johan Cruijff Schaal, stopping Frank de Boer from claiming his fifth Schaal in a row.

However, can history repeat itself and Zwolle cause an upset again? Online bookmakers Betfair does not seem to think so, they have Zwolle as the major underdog at a massive 9/1 to overcome the Eredivisie champions.

For our best bet, I look at the goals market. Ajax have no shortage of firepower and I feel revenge will be served with the Amsterdammers seeing off Zwolle with ease. A 3-1 or 4-1 victory seems likely with chances produced at both ends, with 9/1 and 14/1 being offered respectively. Although our safest bet sees Over 3.5 Goals which is valued at 11/10 at Betfair and I see that our recommended punt.

BEST BET: Over 3.5 Goals (11/10 – Betfair) – Click here to join Betfair and claim up to £50 in free bets. 


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Ahead of next week’s Eredivisie season kick-off, champions Ajax faced KNVB Beker winners AZ Alkmaar at the Amsterdam ArenA for the coveted Johan Cruyff Schaal (Shield), in the usual season preview to the upcoming campaign. Ajax were looking to finally end an curse in this match which has seen the Amsterdammers which has seen them lose the match the last three seasons consecutively, although they went on to win the Eredivisie title on all three occasions. Not a bad consolation prize, but it was a case of third time lucky for Frank de Boer’s side this evening, coming back from two goals down to finally clinch the Shield.



The first 45 minutes were a cautious affair from both sides of the pitch but after a goal-less first-half, but in the second period, the game opened up and delivered four goals.

The first goal was produced against the run of play after Ajax defender Daley Blind was knocked down on the edge of AZ’s penalty area by Jeffrey Gouweleeuw. Gouweleeuw launched the ball forward as the AZ attack had a three on two advantage. The Icelandic attack linked up well as Aron Jóhannsson squared to an unmarked Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson who buries it past Kenneth Vermeer to put the underdogs ahead. Coach De Boer was furious that the foul had not been given up the pitch before the goal.

Moments after the restart, it was nearly 2-0. AZ surged forward again and when the ball was threaded through to always pressing Gouweleeuw, he poorly hit his shot straight at Vermeer, but Ajax were on the ropes.

Gertjan Verbeek’s men did get their second goal with some good work from their midfield exposing some defensive frailties from the Amsterdam side. Markus Henriksen and Roy Beerens linked up well to split the Ajax backline and left Jóhannsson to tap home to double the lead. De Boer acted by bringing on 18-year-old Danish attacker Lucas Andersen for the on-loan Bojan Krcic, who had largely been disappointing.

AZ - Ajax

Ajax grabbed a goal back with an unlucky own goal. Up stepped Christian Eriksen with the free-kick which ricocheted off Gouweleeuw’s head and into the goal.

Toby Alderweireld hit a long-range effort straight at Esteban Alvarado but the Costa Rican goalkeeper could just parry the effort into the feet of yet another Icelandic, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson to level the game up with fifteen minutes of time remaining.

With chances for either side going begging, the game ended 2-2 on 90 minutes and headed into extra-time. Moments into the first-half, attacking AZ full-back Mattias Johansson found space inside the box but pulled his shot narrowly wide, a huge let-off for De Boer’s side.

Ajax knokt zich terug van 2-0 en wint Johan Cruijff-schaal

Ajax finally took the lead in the match on 103 minutes, Eriksen whipping in a high cross for Siem de Jong to nod home from the back post. Ajax continued to look for goals hitting AZ on the counter while the Alkmaar side pressed to get themselves back into the game, but time ran out for them and Ajax were awarded the Shield.

By winning the trophy this evening, De Boer has wrote himself in the record books once again. He is only the second Ajax man to have lifted the trophy as both a player and a coach, the first being Ajax legend Danny Blind.



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