Elm brothers clash, Heracles face Utrecht
Saturday's Eredivisie clash between Heerenveen and AZ Alkmaar will be a family affair as brothers Viktor and Rasmus Elm come face to face. The match is a crucial one for both teams, who are only three points apart in the race for European football.
Rasmus' AZ currently have the upper hand but have lost their last two games, including a sobering 4-0 home defeat by PSV Eindhoven last weekend. Heerenveen, meanwhile, ended a run of three games without a win by beating NAC Breda, but Viktor admitted the mentality of the team is not what it should be.
The 25-year-old told NuSport: "We have good footballers at Heerenveen but it seems that we do not have the heart to win a match. It's just a question of attitude. The players of our team are all beautiful to watch. Technically it's perfect. We can play well and we have quite a few times.
Viktor, who has recovered from a groin injury, added: "There is currently a lot going on at the club. There are rumours and the atmosphere is sometimes not good."
The two midfielders, whose older brother David is also a professional footballer with Elfsborg in Sweden, have faced each other on many occasions before. Rasmus, 22, insists there will be no nasty tackles flying around on Saturday, although he admitted that has not always been the case. "The first time we had to play against each other was quite crazy," he said. "You could say we went into it not as brothers, only victory counted."
Hosts Heerenveen will be without Roy Beerens (ankle) and the suspended Mika Vayrynen while Bas Dost is a doubt through illness. AZ, meanwhile, will have to cope without coach Gertjan Verbeek on the touchline after he accepted a one-match ban for criticising the officials in the match against PSV.
League leaders PSV are not in action until Sunday, when they host midtable NAC Breda while defending champions FC Twente, who are level on points with their Eindhoven rivals, meet NEC. Third-place Ajax will hope to make up ground when they take on struggling VVV Venlo, as will surprise package FC Groningen, who face Roda JC.
In other matches, bottom side Willem II travel to Excelsior, ADO Den Haag host Feyenoord and Vitesse take on De Graafschap.
Tomorrow night's game, meanwhile, sees Heracles, who have not won away all season, travel to FC Utrecht. The Almelo club's focus has been off the pitch this week as they stepped up their campaign to secure funding for a new stadium. The council are due to rule on the matter on 8 March, and fans showed their support for the plans in a demonstration.
Director Nico-Jan Hoogma told www.heracles.nl: "It is yet more proof that this club is very alive and that we all need a new stadium. We hope to have convinced the city council of the absolute necessity. I've said it before but, without a new stadium, sooner or later we will be relegated from the Eredivisie."