PREVIEW: WEEKEND DUTCH ACTION
Aron Johannsson and eighth-place AZ Alkmaar take on ninth-place Groningen in the Eredivisie, while Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport tangle with Jong Twente this weekend.
Groningen - AZ Alkmaar
Aron Johannsson and AZ Alkmaar travel to take on Groningen on Sunday in a battle between the eighth- and ninth-place teams in the Eredivisie.
Sunday's game represents a chance for AZ to break from the crowded pack in the middle of the Eredivisie.
While AZ are in eighth place at the moment, they're only two points shy of FC Twente, PSV, and Heerenveen at the top of the Eredivisie standings at 15 points.
On the other hand, Johannsson and his teammates only possess a four point lead over 15th place Go Ahead Eagles in the fiercely competitive Eredivisie.
Johannsson has done a good job separating himself from the pack this season. The Alabamian ace has scored in five of his teams eight league games this season in addition to a Europa League goal and a hat-trick in last weeks 4-1 trouncing of Sparta Rotterdam in the KNVB Cup.
AZ have been playing well lately with four wins in their last six games in all competitions while Groningen have stumbled a bit after winning their first two, only managing one win in their six league games since.
Both teams are considerably strained for the match up as AZ will be missing Donny Gorter, Jan Wuytens and Eli Babalj due to injury while Nick van der Velden, David Texeira, Nick Bakker, and Henk Bos are all injured for Groningen in addition to defender Johan Kappelhof being forced to miss the game due to injury.
Jong Twente - Helmond Sport
Helmond Sport and Charles Kazlauskas hit the road to face off with Eerste Divisie newcomers Jong Twente.
It's been an up and down start for Helmond to kick off the year. After gathering only two points from their first four games, Helmond won four out of five in the Eerste Divisie before dropping their last two games, an early round loss against third division Ijsselmeervogels KNVB Cup and most recently, a lopsided 3-1 league loss to Almere City.
While Helmond lead the Eerste Divisie in goals scored, Kazlauskas and his defensive teammates have a lot to remedy on the other side of the field, having allowed the second most goals in the Eerste Divisie with 21 in 10 games.
Despite their ineffective defense thus far, Kazlauskas has been a valuable commodity for Helmond this season, alternating between right back and holding midfield depending on what manager Eric Meijers's needs.
Meijers' team is currently eighth place in the 20 team Eerste Divisie.
Jong Twente, the youth side of Dutch monsters FC Twente, are having a rough go of it in their first season in the professional Eerste Divisie. Since winning two of their first three, Jong Twente have managed to pick up only three points, all ties, in their last seven games.
Midfielder Kevin Visser is set to miss the match for Helmond due to yellow card accumulation while Jong Twente aren't reporting any absences.