If Steve McClaren secures the Eredivisie title for FC Twente on 2nd May for the first time in the club’s history then, the magnitude of that achievement notwithstanding, the goal difference column for this season’s Dutch league table will make curious reading for some time. Sitting in second place are Ajax, just one point worse off than league-leaders Twente with one game left to play, but with an astonishing goal difference of 83 that is more than double that of McClaren’s side.
After 33 league matches, Ajax have scored 102 goals and conceded only 19. PSV have the next best goal difference to Ajax but the Eindhoven club’s tally of 71 goals scored is marred by their having conceded 28, resulting in a comparatively conservative GD of 43. Ajax’s goal difference even exceeds their points tally. Currently on 82 points to Twente’s 83, a win at NEC Nijmegen a week on Sunday will only give free-scoring Ajax the title if the league leaders fail to beat NAC Breda in their own decisive away fixture. The astonishing numbers of Ajax’s campaign could yet directly decide the league, but only if Ajax draw and Twente lose next weekend, meaning that the two teams would finish level on points and that Martin Jol’s side would win the Eredivisie on goal difference.
Their home fixtures for the season completed, Ajax’s record at the Amsterdam Arena has been near-perfect. It was blemished only by one draw amongst sixteen victories, against Sparta Rotterdam way back on 23rd August. With the benefit of hindsight, that draw seems all the more peculiar because the away side that day have since fallen to sixteenth and will compete in the relegation play-offs with clubs from the Eerste Divisie. Only four clubs breached Ajax’s defence at home – PSV, Feyenoord, Heerenveen, and last-placed RKC Waalwijk – and on each occasion the goal amounted only to a consolation in a resounding defeat. Ajax put four past both PSV and RKC, and scored five against Feyenood and Heerenveen. The Amsterdam club’s most comprehensive home victory (7-0) came against VVV Venlo in early April and they hit NAC Breda for six last September. In total, Ajax scored 64 goals at home and conceded a mere four.
Ajax’s away record is slightly less impressive than their home one – in that they have lost to Twente, Utrecht, and PSV – but they have still scored 38 goals on their travels and let in only fifteen at the other end. Of late, though, Ajax’s form on the road has been sound; their last five fixtures away from the Amsterdam Arena have resulted in five victories, 13 goals scored, and just one conceded. Ajax’s final opponents, NEC, are in mid-table and safe from relegation but will no doubt relish the opportunity to deny Ajax their 30th Dutch crown. Twente, however, are likely to face an even sterner test from NAC, who are in contention for a spot in the Eredivisie’s Europa League play-offs. Next afternoon promises to be a nervy, not to mention high-scoring, occasion.