Excelsior vs Nijmegen by 20Legend
Excelsior is in the relegation zone with both legs at the moment which is not that special when looking at their form the latest months. They have not won an official game since November 7th last year, with just 0-4-8 to show for from their last 12 games. They are therefore in 16th place with three points up to the safe spot ahead of them. Excelsior has also got two straight losses now, but it has to be said that their last game against Ajax (3-0) was not expected to result in otherwise than zero points for them. Ajax was totally dominating both the possession and in terms of chances as it was just a wonder why the win was not bigger for them. Excelsior was much closer in the previous game as they led 2-1 in the 69th minute against Den Haag. However, some important substitutions from Den Haag resulted in a tough last quarter for Excelsior and they conceded three goals and lost 2-4 in the end.
Defender Bas Kuipers (18/0) is suspended due to yellow cards, while 2nd keeper Filip Kurto, 3rd keeper Allessandro Damen (0 games) and defender Jurgen Mattheij (14/0) are all injured.
Nijmegen is in a difficult period themselves after 0-2-2 from their last four games. It was quite a negative turnaround as they started the New Year with 2-1-0 from the first three games. It has to be said that both of their losses have come against top teams with a loss against 3rd placed AZ Alkmaar (0-3) and 1st placed PSV (0-3). Their two draws came against 17th placed Graafschap (1-1) and Heerenveen (1-1) in their last match. Heerenveen took the lead after 29 minutes of the game and kept the lead until the 69th minute when Nijmegen got back to 1-1. However, things almost got destroyed when their captain and defender Rens van Eijden gave away a penalty and got shown off with his second yellow card. Luckily for them, Heerenveen did not manage to score and Nijmegen managed to get a point. It means that Nijmegen is in 8th place with 36 points. That is only one point up to the top 7 teams than make the playoff, which means that Nijmegen must step up to get among those teams. Defender Rens van Eijden (19/0) is suspended tonight, together with left-back Lucas Woudenberg (21/1), who picked up a yellow card against Heerenveen which makes him suspended as well. Midfielder Mohamed Rayhi (15/0), goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson (8 games) and 4th keeper Joshua Smits (0 games) are all injured.
It will be a match between two struggling teams at the moment, but it is no doubt that the crisis is at its peak in Excelsior. They have to cut the gap to the teams ahead while it is possible to do so, while Nijmegen also needs the points to get among the important top 7. While Excelsior struggles on scoring, Nijmegen is the fourth best team on conceding the least goals in this league (27). Only Ajax (15), Vitesse (22) and PSV (24) are better on that statistic. Nine of Excelsior’s last matches have gone under 2.5 goals while three consecutive away games for Nijmegen have also ended under 2.5 goals. Excelsior has failed to score in five of their latest seven games in Eredivisie. Despite Nijmegen’s important defensive absences tonight, I do not see Excelsior suddenly making a major threat tonight with their defensive absentees as well as their current statistics and form in mind. Nijmegen will also be happy with just getting the three points, but it will not be an easy task as they have not impressed away from home lately. I believe that it will evolve into a match scenario under 2.5 goals in this game of football.