On Friday night, Frank de Boer’s Ajax took another step towards a fourth successive Eredivisie title without even kicking a ball—thanks to the latest slip-up from rivals Vitesse.
Having already lost 2-0 at home to AZ on Tuesday, the Arnhem-based outfit fired another blank as they were held to a goalless draw by rock bottom Den Haag. After a dreadful week for Peter Bosz's side, Vitesse’s title challenge is quickly evaporating.
In truth, the stalemate with Den Haag is just the latest disappointment for a Vitesse side who have crumbled since the winter break.
Prior to that month break, Vitesse were going strong and posed a genuine threat to champions Ajax; when they started 2014 with a 2-1 victory away at Zwolle, Vitas fans began to believe that this could finally be their year.
At that stage, Bosz’s side had 40 points from 19 games and sat level on points with leaders Ajax. However, a streak of four winless matches since then has left Vitesse on the brink of seeing their title dreams evaporate once again.
The rot began with January 26th’s hugely disappointing 1-1 draw with local rivals NEC, which allowed de Boer’s Ajax to open up a two-point gap at the summit.
Further ground was surrendered just five days later, although this time a 1-1 away at Feyenoord signalled a relatively satisfactory night’s work for the Arnhem-based title hopefuls.
However, last week’s return of just one point from two home games—including one against Eredivisie’s worst team—has left Vitesse with almost no chance of claiming a first league title.
Equally worrying is the lack of goals in recent weeks.
Lucas Piazon’s 11 league goals is a decent return at this stage of the season, but it doesn’t even come close to Wilfried Bony’s 31 strikes during 2012/13. What Vitesse have done well, though, is to find goals from various sources all over the park, which arguably makes the pitiful two goals in four matches an even greater cause for concern.
Should Ajax and Twente win their respective weekend encounters, Vitesse will end the weekend seven points adrift of Ajax and three behind Twente—who will also have a game in hand.
Whilst that total won’t quite be considered unassailable, it is hard to see where both teams will drop enough points to allow Vitas back into the title race.
Especially as only 11 games remain.
Whatever happens, Vitesse should at least qualify for a Europa League spot by equalling last year’s 4th placed finish. However, for a team that were favored for such long periods of this campaign, it will be a tragedy if they cannot at least secure a Champions League berth.
Bosz will still be hopeful of becoming the first coach to bring the Eredivisie title to GelreDome, but following a simply catastrophic week for the Arnhem side, he may need a miracle for that dream to become reality.
Then again, stranger things have happened.