5 Reasons Eredivisie Is Best European League to Watch in 2013
For the next three months, the Eredivisie should be a staple for any world football fan's weekend.
On the whole, few regard the Dutch league as a massive power in Europe. FourFourTwo made an attempt in its September 2012 issue to rank the top football leagues in the world. The Eredivisie didn't make the cut, instead being relegated to the periphery with Ligue 1, MLS and the Australian A-League, among others.
The influx of capital to larger leagues and the Bosman ruling have ensured that every club in the Eredivisie must sell its best players to survive. Never again will a Dutch side like sweep across Europe in the way that Ajax did in 1995.
All of this is not to say the Eredivisie doesn't make for captivating viewing for the remainder of the 2012/13.
You will get higher quality football in other leagues, but if you're looking for some of the most captivating, entertaining matches in Europe, the Netherlands is the place to go.
1. Fight for the Top
Quite a bit of drama has been sapped from the most prominent leagues in Europe, as the titles look to be thoroughly decided at this point.
This is extremely common in Spain but not so much with the Bundesliga or EPL. The drama in both of those leagues must now come from who will earn a coveted spot in the Champions League. Those implications simply aren't as compelling since no trophy is at stake, no matter the view of Arsene Wenger.
Here's each of the top four European leagues, with the gap between the first- and second-placed clubs.
|English Premier League||12|
It's no fun to watch a league where one club has built so large a lead. That necessarily couldn't be said about Italy, but Juventus look like heavy favorites at this point. The gap between Juve and third-place Lazio is 11 points as well.
A tight pack near the top of the table is exactly what you'll find in the Eredivisie. The top six clubs are separated by just eight points. With 10 matches left in the season, you could see plenty of movement at the top of the table.
You don't have any one club able to separate itself from the pack. What you do have is quite possibly the best title race in all of Europe.
2. Young Talent
It would be extremely unfair to say the Eredivisie lacks talented footballers. Year in, year out, the Dutch league produces some of the best young attacking talent in the world. 2013 is no different as the Eredivisie is loaded.
The league has been a fantastic place to become more tactically sound as a player. Jozy Altidore is one of the best examples this season. He's long shown plenty of potential; however, his career has failed to come together, as any supporter of the United States national team would attest. Since moving to AZ Alkmaar in the summer of 2011, Altidore has grown exponentially.
It's inevitable that the best players will leave because their financial and professional interests have to be looked after.
Christian Eriksen, Filip Djuricic, Leroy Fer, Kevin Strootman, Daryl Janmaat, Ricardo van Rhijn and Wilfried Bony are just some of the players who could be moved on as soon as this summer, after being linked to some of Europe's biggest sides. Watching them now would give you a great idea of what kind of impact they'll have down the road.
Losing players like that will certainly make any league worse. Fortunately for the Eredivisie, there's players like Marco van Ginkel, Adam Maher, Jetro Willems, Bruno Martins Indi and Jordy Clasie just waiting to take center stage.
3. Attacking Football
The Netherlands were once the home of Total Football. Without Rinus Michels and Stevan Kovac's Ajax teams of the early 1970s, you wouldn't be seeing the kind of beautiful football exemplified by Barcelona.
That style has largely been outmoded, but the Dutch attacking ideal is still alive and well. During the 2011/12 season, the Eredivisie finished only second in Europe to the Estonian Meistriliiga in terms of goals per game, at 3.26 (h/t Compare the Leagues). Third is the Eerste Divisie, or Dutch second division.
It's almost as if one of the guidelines for the league is that every manager puts his team out in a 4-3-3. Managers who deviate from this are often ostracized by the majority of supporters. Just think back to the quandary Bert van Marwijk faced when he was manager of the Dutch national team.
Despite the team making the final of the 2010 World Cup, most in the Netherlands were ashamed of the pragmatism displayed by van Marwijk, symbolized best by Nigel de Jong's karate kick on Xabi Alonso.
This is a country that covets its attacking football, and the only thing better than one goals is two goals.
If you need a reason to watch, look no further than Wilfried Bony. The Ivorian striker has scored a whopping 22 goals in just 21 games. After his failing to secure a transfer to a Russian club (h/t talkSPORT), Vitesse will get Bony for at least a few more months.
Parity is rife in the Eredivisie. For the most part, power is concentrated among a select few clubs, much as it is in most leagues. Should PSV hang on to its lead atop the table, the club would be the fourth different title winner in five years.
No team in this league is untouchable.
FC Twente led the league for quite a bit of the season. After a six-match winless streak that cost Steve McClaren his job, Twente now finds itself fifth.
Although it's won the last two Eredivisie titles, Ajax is second in the table and is not without its deficiencies. The Amsterdam side desperately needs to find a striker to finish off attacking moves. Draws against clubs like ADO Den Haag, Heracles and Roda have meant vital dropped points.
Despite its wealth of attacking talent, PSV has been shaky at the back on more than a few occasions. Last week, the club was forced to play Mathias Jorgensen at right-back. It was a disaster as PSV lost, 2-1, to Feyenoord, a club that has been rejuvenated and looks primed for a title push.
You could try to go into each week of fixtures with a general idea of how the matches will play out, then the script will be flipped as the teams near the top of the table drop points.
5. Lack of Massive Foreign Investment
Many world football supporters are lamenting the way that money has begun to become the driving force for the sport. Seeing a club like Montpellier win a league title will become an even more rare occurrence.
The separation between the haves and have-nots is only continuing to grow. It remains to be seen what, if any, impact UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules will have. The regulations will be completely useless if the governing body doesn't hold up its end of the bargain.
The Eredivisie is much lower in the European pecking order, and there's no chance it will become a haven for rich oligarchs. With the size of the country and lack of financial growth, the Netherlands isn't a viable option for an owner to come in and spend millions upon millions of euros.
While you're not going to see the best players in the world, the Eredivisie gives fans the chance to watch a slightly more pure version of football, which at the same time doesn't drop too far off in quality.