Let’s welcome Willem II back to the Eredivisie, the club known as the tricolores have returned to the Eredivisie after being relegated in the 2012/2013 season. The last three season’s have seen the club yo-yoing between the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie, before their relegation in the 2010/2011 season Willem II were consistently in the top flight after their promotion in 1986/1987. The club’s highest finish in the Eredivise was second place back in 1999/2000, the club won’t be getting anywhere near that position this season, the focus is simply to avoid relegation.
Willem II enjoyed a very successful season in the Eerste Divisie, they won the league by six points and they had an impressive unbeaten streak of fourteen games to finish the season, that run saw them winning eleven times and drawing three. The only disappointment last season was the showing in the KNVB Beker, Willem II were knocked out in the second round and they’ll be looking to do a bit better this time around.
This season the Tilburg side will be without Rudd Boymans, the 25-year-old forward had an outstanding loan spell at the club last season. The AZ man played thirty-six games for Willem II and finished the season in second place on the top scorers chart with twenty-seven goals to his name. Unfortunately for Willem II the form he showed throughout last season has earned him a move to FC Utrecht. Willem II may struggle to fill Boymans’ boots, however they’ve kept hold of Brazilian forward Bruno Andrade, who also had a very good season, scoring fourteen goals in twenty-nine appearances, while also assisting his team-mates on six occasions. Along with Andrade the club have 20-year-old Terell Ondaan, the youngster was given plenty of playing time last season and he certainly made the most of it, he managed to score six times and asssit for six goals. Completing the front three this season will be Ben Sahar who signed from German side Hertha BSC, the Israeli signed a one-year deal with the club and will need to find some consistent goalscoring form, something he hasn’t done since the 2010/2011 season with Hapoel Tel Aviv. It’s unclear who’ll be playing in the centre of the front three, but one thing they’ll have is versatility up front, this may prove useful when they come unstuck.
As well as seeing Boymans returning to his parent club, Willem II have also said goodbye to Gaby Jallo and Mitch van der Ven, both leaving on free transfers to FC Emmen and FC Eindhoven respectively. Sofian Akouili also left the club, he joined FC Volendam and like Jallo and van der Ven he’ll be staying in the Eerste Divisie. Willem II fans won’t be seeing Norair Aslanyan-Mamedov this season, despite making twenty-two appearances last season he’s been sent out on loan to Almere City. Willem II have only brought in three players so far, Sahar as previously mentioned, Fabian Sporkslede and Kostas Lamprou both join on loan from Ajax and Feyenoord respectively.
Willem II play a defensive 4-3-3 and one player to look out for this season will be the man playing just behind the front three, Ali Messaoud. After joining from AZ last season, he went on to play a key role in the side, scoring ten and setting up four. At the back they have Dries Wuytens and Jordens Peters, who provided a decent partnership which lead to Willem II finishing with the best defensive record in the Eerste Divisie.
Willem II have had a decent pre-season, they’ve managed to win six of their nine friendlies. The club started it’s pre-season with a 12-1 victory over amateur side RKDSV, that was followed up by a 4-0 win over VV Zigo, a 7-0 win against BD Klasbakkenteam and a 2-1 win against Belgian side Waasland-Beveren. Willem II then drew 0-0 with Lierse S.K., this draw was then followed by a 1-0 win over Roda JC and a 1-0 win against Istanbul BB, in between these two games Willem II suffered a 5-0 defeat to Marseille and a 5-2 defeat to Saint Etienne.
The future looks bright for Willem II, they have young squad, however only time will tell if they have enough quality to stay up this season. It’s a tough start to the campaign as they host PSV, before travelling to Utrecht and then hosting AZ.
Article for VAVEL.