Twente close in on Dutch title
FC Twente could lift their second successive Eredivisie title on Sunday if results go their way in the penultimate round of the competition.
The Enschede club hold a one-point lead over nearest challengers Ajax and are expected to add three more to their tally when they take on basement side Willem II at De Grolsch Veste. If they do win, and Ajax lose at mid-table Heerenveen and third-placed PSV Eindhoven fail to beat Vitesse Arnhem, the title will stay in Twente's trophy cabinet for another year.
Twente are taking nothing for granted though, especially as they round off their campaign with a trip to Ajax, and this week enlisted the help of sports psychologist Bill Beswick in the hope it will keep the players focused for the run-in. Willem II could also prove tricky opponents as they make a bid to climb off the foot of the table and out of the automatic relegation place, with three points separating them from VVV Venlo directly above.
PSV felt the title slipping away from them following last weekend's defeat to Feyenoord, but coach Fred Rutten is not ready to throw in the towel just yet. The Eindhoven club need to win their remaining two matches, and hope their rivals drop points elsewhere, if they are to claim the title they last won in 2008.
Although the odds are stacked against them, Rutten is determined his side will not give in until the very end. "There are still two matches to play and the reality is there is a stick to chase," he said. "If that stick is still there, firstly to become the champions - and I'm aware that will be difficult for us - then you should go for it.
"Plus if you win both games then Champions League football is also a reality and that is what this club needs. The pressure is increasing, we all know that. But we have to try and find the right balance and not get snowed under by the pressure."
Below the top-three, there is a three-way jostle for the final automatic UEFA Europa League place. That spot is normally reserved for the winners of the KNVB Beker, but with Twente and Ajax contesting the cup final next weekend, that has opened up another European place for the team finishing fourth in the league.
AZ Alkmaar lie fourth at present with a two-point advantage over Roda JC and ADO Den Haag. FC Groningen are a point further back in seventh, and their clash with ADO this weekend could end the challenge of either team. AZ play hosts to De Graafschap as they look to wrap up a top-four finish, while Roda travel to NEC Nijmegen.
There is also a battle going on in mid-table for eighth place and the final Europa League play-off spot. FC Utrecht currently hold that position and will travel to lowly Excelsior on Sunday, where a slip-up could open the door for a number of clubs.
Heracles Almelo and Feyenoord are just a point worse off than Utrecht, and will face NAC Breda and VVV respectively. Ajax's opponents Heerenveen also have an outside chance of a top-eight finish, although they have four points to make up on Utrecht.