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Monday, December 29, 2003 

Dutch First Division Standings and Overlook

Pos. Team Pts
1 Ajax 37
2 PSV 37
3 Alkmaar 32
4 Feyenoord 28
5 Willem II 27
6 Heerenveen 26
7 Twente 25
8 Utrecht 25
9 Roda 21
10 Roosendaal 21
11 Groningen 20
12 NEC 19
13 NAC 18
14 Waalwijk 17
15 Volendam 13
16 Vitesse 13
17 Den Haag 10
18 Zwolle 7

Winter Review

Ajax and PSV may be duelling for the title, but neither managed a goal in their final matches prior to the shutdown, which runs until 21 January. Moreover, only one Ereviside team remain in Europe, in stark contrast to recent distinguished performances.

Deposed as champions last season by PSV, Ajax currently lead the way. But whereas they began the season at a rate of knots, in the last month they have crashed out of the UEFA Champions League, finishing bottom of their group, departed the Dutch Cup at home to NAC Breda and ended the year with a 2-0 defeat by FC Twente. That followed a run where they had picked up 25 points from nine fixtures, but they are now level with PSV, albeit with a game in hand.

Feyenoord, though, are facing their first finish outside the top three since 1997/98. They lie fourth, four points behind AZ Alkmaar, after a summer overhaul that saw Paul Bosvelt, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Bonaventura Kalou and Brett Emerton depart and Dirk Kuijt, Danko Lazovic, Peter van den Berg, Hossam Ghaly, Jean Carlos Dondé and Alfred Schreuder arrive.

With only two Champions League slots, Feynoord already seem set to have to settle for another UEFA Cup campaign unless they can make up the nine-point gap on the top two. A more realistic challenge could come from Alkmaar, who sit five points off the top and are impressing under former Ajax coach Co Adriaanse. They boast prolific strikers in Ali Elkhattabi and Kenneth Perez, who have scored 12 and eight goals respectively.

Feyenoord could even struggle for a UEFA Cup place as Willem II, SC Heerenveen, FC Utrecht and Twente are all eyeing a top-five finish. It is Twente whom Bert van Maarwijk's men face in the Dutch Cup quarter-finals in February. Holders Utrecht are also still involved, and were drawn at home to second division Heracles Almelo.

Lower down the table, SBV Vitesse's financial troubles are beginning to tell on the pitch, and they face a relegation dogfight with newly promoted FC Volendam, ADO Den Haag and bottom club FC Zwolle.

Source: Uefa.com

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