The two matches between these clubs each season rarely disappoint, and there is nearly always something at stake. It's much like a Real-Barcelona clash, though in this case, there was the inconvenient fact that outsiders FC Twente, from Enschede, sit 5 points clear at the top of the table.
When I was living in Holland, I tried as hard as I could to hate Ajax. I disliked PSV even more, but with my first loyalty then and now being with AZ, and with 6 months in Amsterdam to give me a taste for the arrogance of Ajax fans and Amsterdammers in general, we almost had a New York Yankees thing going. The two matches I went to at the ArenA were lacklustre affairs against weak sides where Ajax left the scoring late, yet were immensely gratifying because the atmosphere was so poisonous.
Today was different, and I found myself loving every good moment for the Ajax side, which has been the case more or less since I left the country. The atmosphere was great, no doubt aided by a 4-1 Ajax victory. The only chant with a hint of derision or irony was the singing of "Suk there it is" (you know how it goes), for last minute Korean substitute Suk Hyun-Jun. Urby Emanuelsson's first half goal was a beauty -- check the youtubes in a few hours
The league is being to settle out. Twente are in the driver's seat, and PSV and Ajax are the only other teams with any shot at all to catch them for the title. Feyenoord seem pretty well entrenched in 4th, and as much as I'd love AZ to catch them I don't see it happening.
Fortunately, things in our Eredivisie contest are far from over. Here's how it looks:
|AZ||45||Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ)||16|
|Ajax||64||Luis Suarez (Ajax)||27|
|TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2)||195|
|AZ||45||Luis Suarez (Ajax)||27|
|PSV||65||Balazs Dzsudzsak (PSV)||10|
|TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2)||184|
|PSV||65||Luis Suarez (Ajax)||27|
|Ajax||64||Jon Dahl Tomasson (Feyenoord)||8|
|TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2)||199|
|Ajax||64||Keisuke Honda (VVV)||6|
|FC Utrecht||42||Mounir el Hamdaoui (AZ)||16|
|TOTAL (PTS + GOALS x 2)||150|
The hand-in-hand resurgence of AZ and Mounir el Hamdaoui (or Moon-Ham for short) has vaulted me to within a shout of the lead. Mounir will need to continue to outpace Jon Dahl Tomasson for me to have a shot at the prize.
Speaking of prizes, I think of settled on a good one. The winner will receive a scarf of one of the relegated teams -- whichever I can find cheapest on Ebay.
The last placed team takes an automatic drop, while the #16 and 17 go into the relegation playoffs.
Goes with anything.
Lastly on the contest front, April 1st will be the day I launch my second annual Voyageurs Cup/Nutrilite Canadian Championship prediction pool. The inaugural edition was a smashing success and I hope I can build on that this year.