Twente aim to hold top, Ajax lurk nearby

FC Twente tumbled out of the UEFA Champions League this week but remain ambitious in Europe - and in the Eredivisie they have been unstoppable so far. Co Adriaanse's side are the only side in the Dutch elite with a record of three wins from three matches, and they will look for a fourth this weekend when they play VVV-Venlo on Saturday.

Their Champions League campaign ended at the play-off stage with defeat to Benfica last night, losing the second leg in Lisbon 3-1 and the tie 5-3 on aggregate. While Eredivisie champions Ajax gained an automatic place in the group stages, Adriaanse's Twente troops must settle for a Europa League place, which is a competition the coach believes will suit them.

"Sometimes it seemed like we were in the Boulevard Peripherique in Paris," said Adriaanse, acknowledging Benfica's supremacy. "The traffic roared past. It is not meant as an insult towards my players but I think it's better for the development of the players and the team that we play in the Europa League. It is currently more our level and we have opportunities to progress."

Ajax will enjoy the financial rewards of the Champions League and hope to reach the knock-out rounds, but retaining the Eredivisie remains all-important to the Amsterdam side. Gregory van der Wiel showed how much Ajax's 30th league title meant to him this week when he unveiled a new tattoo across his chest.

I think it's better for the development of the players and the team that we play in the Europa League. It is currently more our level.
Twente coach Co Adriaanse after their exit to Benfica

Van der Wiel, who has been no stranger to controversy in his career and had his attitude questioned at an early age, insists his love for Ajax knows no bounds. Ajax wear three stars on their shirt to recognise their 30 titles, and Van der Wiel was keen to mark the achievement in the same way, but in ink.The 23-year-old Holland defender told Ajax's website: "This is a special memory for me.

"I've been playing at Ajax since I was seven. For me there is no other club than Ajax. People sometimes have the perception that I am indifferent and find me maybe careless or spoiled. Or they say I do not go away and work hard for the money. It's just not true. I've been a fan of Ajax from an early age, even before I played."

Ajax tackle Vitesse tomorrow evening, when a victory would lift them above Twente, temporarily at least. The 2-2 draw with VVV last weekend, when Ajax frittered away a two-goal lead, led manager Frank de Boer to call his team's display "too sloppy", so they will be attempting to make amends. Vitesse, like Ajax, have seven points from three games already, so also have designs on top spot.

Feyenoord are also unbeaten after three games, with two wins and a draw, and face Heerenveen on Sunday. The Rotterdam giants were held 1-1 by Heracles last weekend, but coach Ronald Koeman said: "This team has a lot of footballing ability, great speed up front and threat. We have managed to increasingly exploit these qualities. Though it can always be improved."

PSV Eindhoven, who faced a UEFA Europa League play-off clash against SV Ried before being able to look to the weekend, have a home match against Excelsior on Sunday. AZ Alkmaar, with two wins and one defeat so far, travel to tackle Groningen on Sunday, which is also when De Graafschap and ADO Den Haag, both without a victory so far, go head to head, and Utrecht take on Roda JC.

Saturday's remaining games see RKC Waalwijk play NAC Breda, and NEC Nijmegen square off against Heracles.