Ajax and PSV Eindhoven are set to resume the Eredivisie campaign after a long winter break. The rivals are separated by 11 points in the table due to some struggles by the Rood-witten, but that doesn't take much intrigue away from the high-profile match.
The Godenzonen are in firm contention for the league title. The championship chase figures to remain very tight during the second half of the campaign. Twente, Vitesse and Feyenoord are all within striking distance of the top spot as league play resumes.
It would take quite an effort down the stretch for PSV to get back in the title conversation. The club had some promising moments before the winter hiatus, but just wasn't consistent enough during the early portion of the campaign to keep pace.
With that in mind, let's examine all of the important viewing information for the Eredivisie clash, followed by a look at the top storyline and a match prediction.
What's your prediction for the marquee fixture?
Where: Amsterdam Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands
When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 10:30 a.m. ET (3:30 p.m. GMT)
Live Stream: LiveSport.TV
Match Odds (via Bovada)
PSV Eindhoven: +375
Top Storyline: Can Ajax rediscover top form after extended break?
The first meeting of the campaign between these two sides could very well end up being Ajax's worst performance of the season. After a lackluster first half from both squads, PSV exploded for four goals in a 15-minute stretch after the break to score the blowout.
For a club that's otherwise been very good throughout the campaign, it was certainly a forgettable outing. If the Godenzonen are going to put together a better rivalry showing this time around, they will have to do it without Siem de Jong.
Dutch Football noted the captain will miss the match:
Blow for Ajax as Siem de Jong misses tomorrows game against PSV— Dutch Football (@football_oranje) January 18, 2014
Aside from missing De Jong, the biggest challenge for Ajax will be seeing how quickly they can get back into form. They had gone 10 straight matches without a loss, highlighted by a 2-1 win over Barcelona, and then had the momentum brought to an end by the break.
With De Jong out, the onus to create scoring chances will fall more on the midfield, led by Davy Klaassen. Ajax have to play far more aggressively and with much greater urgency than they did the first time around, and it starts in the middle of the pitch.
On the flip side, PSV were also playing well back in December, winning their last two games before the layoff by a total score of 7-1. They were finally performing on the necessary level to starting climbing the table, and building off that is key.
The best plan for the Rood-witten is building a defensive wall early and relying on counterattacks to generate chances for the likes of Jurgen Locadia and Memphis Depay. If the match gets too wide-open, the edge will shift to Ajax's advantage.
If PSV Eindhoven have any remaining hope of making a second-half charge up the table, this probably amounts to a must-win match. Add in Ajax trying to maintain the top spot and the rivalry factor, and it should be a match that lives up to the hype.
Ultimately, the result from earlier in the campaign probably still doesn't still well with Ajax. They'll be seeking to avenge that loss. If they can showcase anywhere close to the form they had before the break, three points should be the outcome.
Ajax 2, PSV Eindhoven 1