Eredivisie starts: Robben mania in Groningen, disaster summer in Heerenveen

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Due to the corona crisis, the summer break for Eredivisie clubs is longer, but perhaps more challenging than ever. Financially there are many question marks, we are working towards matches with only partially filled stadiums and selections have to be brought up to standard. Press draws up the balance per club in four parts. In part two we look at the situation of the five mid-riders from last season.

12. FC Emmen: on its way to third enforcement in a row?

The number of season tickets sold is lower at many clubs due to an adjusted sales policy due to the corona crisis.

Budget and season tickets sold: The club has not responded.
Strengths / weaknesses selection:
Emmen strengthened itself during the transfer summer with Simon Tibbling, among others, and brought an old acquaintance back to Drenthe with Caner Cavlan. The ambitious club wants to maintain itself for the third time in a row and partly thanks to the (provisional) retention of trendsetters such as Sergio Peña and Glenn Bijl, that certainly seems to be the case.
Results in the preparation: The signs for a good season were not there yet. Trainer Dick Lukkien does not seem to have it all in order, because the team from Drenthe lost no chance against SC Cambuur (2-5) and FC Groningen (1-4). In the other five exhibition matches, only Telstar was defeated: 0-1.

Glenn Bijl remained loyal to FC Emmen for the time being. (Photo: Pro Shots)

Budget: 9 million euros
Season tickets sold: 5,095 (last season: 5,936)
Strengths / weaknesses selection: With Benjamin van Leer, Tom Beugelsdijk, Lennart Thy and Reda Kharchouch, Sparta seems to have strengthened itself considerably. With Ragnar Ache, Dante Rigo and Patrick Joosten, a few (rented) basic players have left, but with the width of the selection it seems to be good in Rotterdam.
Results in the preparation: Henk Fraser’s team did not impress, as not one of the six exhibition matches was won. Sparta did not pass Telstar (0-0), NAC Breda (1-1) and RKC Waalwijk (1-1) and lost the last test 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund. The latter is no shame, but they will not work towards the Eredivisie start with confidence.

Tom Beugelsdijk in the club colors of Sparta. (Photo: Pro Shots)

Budget: 11 million euros
Season tickets sold: 8,600 (last season: 10,300)
Strengths / weaknesses selection: Heerenveen lost a load of basic players – no less than 12 million euros was received for Chidera Ejuke – and attracted few noteworthy replacements. The return of Erwin Mulder and Henk Veerman seems more like an emergency measure.
Results in the preparation: There is work to be done, as all practice matches were lost. The most painful were the 4-1 defeat against FC Utrecht and the loss against De Graafschap. The First Divisionist was 5-1 too strong for Johnny Jansen’s team. Things will have to change quickly in Heerenveen.

Henk Veerman returned to SC Heerenveen after two years. (Photo: Pro Shots)

Budget and season tickets sold: The club has not responded.
Strengths / weaknesses selection: This season it is really only about one man: Arjen Robben. The 96-time international returned from retirement to do his childhood sweetheart one last service. The question is to what extent his fitness allows him to play a starring role. Furthermore, Wessel Dammers, Damil Dankerlui and Patrick Joosten are also new to the ‘Trots van het Noorden’, which saw important forces like Deyovaisio Zeefuik, Mike te Wierik and Django Warmerdam leave. Groningen is still looking for a striker.
Results in the preparation: FC Groningen started the run-up to the new season energetically with victories over Heracles Almelo (1-0), FC Emmen (1-4) and FC Volendam (0-2). Then things got in the rough, because the next four duels were not won. The 4-0 defeat against Werder Bremen was even somewhat painful.

Arjen Robben returned to the old nest at FC Groningen. (Photo: Pro Shots)

Budget: 9 million euros
Season tickets sold: 5,300 (last season: 6,300)
Strengths / weaknesses selection: Heracles ended in an excellent eighth place in the Eredivisie last season. This was partly due to the goal production of Cyriel Dessers, who became the top scorer in the Netherlands with fifteen goals. The Belgian was sold to KRC Genk. With Sinan Bakis, a 26-year-old German striker, Heracles quickly acquired a successor. Can he make Dessers forget?
Results in the preparation: Exactly half of the ten exhibition matches were won. The varying results make it difficult to estimate how the team from Almelo is doing.

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