While one of the closest league title races is happening in Premier League, we have got yet another close race for the league title happening barely 300km away, in Netherlands’ Eredivisie, where Ajax chases their first league title since 2013/14 season.
Ajax FC, the most decorated Netherland team won the Eredivisie/National title 33 times, which is by far the most among all teams. As of now, are still 9 titles in front of the 2nd most successful Netherlands team, PSV.
Despite their impressive title count, Ajax failed short of achieving the glory for the 34th time in each of the last 4 seasons.
Going back in time to 2013/14, Ajax won the title with 4 points to spare ahead of their arch-rivals Feyenoord. Next year, Ajax failed to contest the title once more, due to an incredible season of PSV, who won the title with 17 point lead in front of Ajax. Next season it looked like it was time to Ajax to once again win the league. They were leading for the whole season, until the last round, when they were passed by PSV, who won their 2nd title in a row. Losing the title in the last round is bad enough, but losing it again the next season, against their biggest rivals, Feyenoord by only 1 point is that much worse. Moving to 2017/18 season, Ajax were once again defeated by PSV who won with 4 points to spare. But this year should be their year right? The 2018/19 season is surely the season when Ajax will win the title once. Well, it did look like it last week, when Ajax were only 2 points behind PSV, who have been sitting at the top of the league since the 3rd round.
After Ajax incredible win against Real Madrid in Spain (1:4) it looked like it’s only a matter of time when they will catch up to PSV and steal the 1st place from them. After the upset in Madrid, Ajax went on to win their next 2 league matches against Sittard (4:0) and Zwolle (2:1), only to be stopped by AZ Alkmaar on Sunday (1:0). A disappointing defeat that set Ajax back 5 points from reaching PSV, who won all of their last 3 fixtures and do not look like they are stopping anytime soon. So what does the Ajax defeat mean for the title race, and is the 5 point deficit really too much for Ajax to catch up to in the remaining 8 rounds of Eredivisie?
Looking at PSV this season, they have been just exceptional, the 21-4-1 record they hold speaks for itself and with another title ahead of them it would be hard to imagine PSV will let an opportunity to win their 4th title in the last 5 years go to waste. Not only has PSV a 5 point lead in front of Ajax, but there is also the Champions League campaign Ajax needs to attend, which will take some of their power away from the domestic league title race. But it’s not all decided yet, as there are a few factors that work in Ajax favour.
First of all, PSV still needs to visit Ajax at Johan Cruijff Arena at the end of March, which would give Ajax an exceptional chance to reduce the gap. And secondly, it’s not only the tough Ajax fixture that PSV needs to go through. They also need to face off against Vitesse and AZ Alkmaar, both on the road, while Ajax does not have such tough matches ahead of them. So, in the end, it will really just come down to who makes fewer mistakes. Ajax need to close the gap of 5 points, while also playing in the Champions League and on the other side, PSV must retain their lead and perform up to par against 8-4-1 Vitesse and 8-3-2 Alkmaar.
To draw a conclusion, PSV seems to be in an advantage to win the title once more, however, I don’t believe Ajax are out of the race just yet. The next match between two sides will be crucial and if Ajax manages to win it, we will be in for another spectacular title race.