A week before the champion of the Eredivisie, Ajax or Twente, is crowned, the same teams face each other in De Kuip, Rotterdam for the final of the KNVB Cup this Sunday (May 8, 6.00 pm CET).

Different seasons
There’s been written a lot in the media about Ajax this season. It’s normal that Ajax is the club the different medias write and talk about the most, but with all that’s gone on this season, it’s been more than ever. It all started well for Ajax in August with reaching the Champions League and good results in the league. But after being blown away by Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, the turmoil started. From Johan Cruyff starting a (velvet) revolution to Martin Jol’s resignation and more. Not to forget Frank de Boer’s clash with Mounir El Hamdaoui, accepting you won’t win the league after a defeat against ADO and a few weeks later you’ve winning it in your own hands and the everlasting inconsistency. Inconsistency, the word that describes, apart from crazy, Ajax’s season.

Twente, on the other hand, won the league last year and haven’t had much to prove this season. Another season like they had last year would be a bonus. Playing in the Champions League against the biggest teams in Europe was the cherry on top of the cake for the ‘Tukkers’. They’ve proven once again they are a top club in the making. It’s a good thing for the Eredivisie. They didn’t start their season as well as they expected to with two draws but after that they were unbeaten until late November. It’s remarkable for a team that plays Champions League for the first time in their history. Most teams struggle with playing three games a week for months. FC Twente didn’t and are still proving their league title last year wasn’t a ‘one day fly’. Right now they have the best chance to win the league again even though they have to travel to Amsterdam. A draw is enough for the Enschede based club. It’s not that it’s been all hosanna for FC Twente. The last few weeks they’ve dropped points and allowed Ajax to come back in the title race. Their play hasn’t been as good and exciting as last season. Still, they’ve been the most constant of the current top 3.

Road to the final
Ajax’s stats of their way to the final look impressive. All games won after 90 minutes, 18 goals scored and just two conceded in five games. It doesn’t look that impressive anymore when I tell you Ajax played every game at home and faced three teams from the First Division (including one in the semi final). It has to be on of their easiest roads to the final of the Dutch Cup ever.

FC Twente had more trouble to reach the final and travel to De Kuip. Two games had to be decided on penalties. One of them was the quarter final against PSV

With a tougher road to the final, FC Twente maybe deserves to win the cup more than Ajax do. But a final is not about deserving it or not. It’s about which team is the best that day. Frank de Boer said that Ajax have more quality in their squad. I question that. With an average age of 22, Ajax’s latest starting XI against SC Heerenveen was a very young and inexperienced one. Twente have experience in their team. They still have pretty much the same squad compared to last season. Theo Janssen and their best player Bryan Ruiz (who’s slowly coming into the form he had last season) are still among them.  Not to forget an in form Luuk de Jong (Siem’s younger brother), Wout Brama and Denny Landzaat. In the backline they have with Peter Wisgerhof and Douglas a very stable duo

Ajax, on the other hand, lost in Luis Suarez their best player in January. Another key player, Urby Emanuelson, left to AC Milan and Maarten Stekelenburg has been out since March with a broken thumb. Though they’ve got Jan Vertonghen, the best defender in the Eredivisie if you ask me. His partnership with fellow Belgian Toby Alderweireld can be called stable aswell. In Gregory van der Wiel, Ajax have one of the most talented right backs in Europe. Miralem Sulejmani is coming back to his Heerenveen form after 3 years of struggling. And let’s not forget Christian Eriksen, who shows why he was so wanted by other top clubs before joining Ajax. In my opinion it’s a blessing in disguise Mounir El Hamdaoui is out with a hamstring injury for the final. With Siem de Jong in a false no. 9 role, Ajax are playing better. I don’t question El Hamdaoui’s quality, because he has a lot of that. But he doesn’t suit the style Ajax play. I’d say FC Twente are slight favourites, just due to comparing the performances this season.

As said: FC Twente probably have the best testimonials to win the cup for the 3th time in their history. But as pointed out earlier, a final is decided on which team is the best that day. Which team wants to win the most and shows it. All things point to an exciting final between two teams that are a match for each other. The meeting earlier this season was a cracker (2-2) and probably the best game the Eredivisie has seen this season. It can go either way. I hope it goes Ajax’s way.

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