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Season review: Netherlands

Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 9.30CET
AFC Ajax made it three Eredivisie titles in a row under the guidance of Frank de Boer while AZ Alkmaar saved face after a disappointing league campaign by winning the cup final.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Netherlands
Ajax captain Siem de Jong lifts the Eredivisie shield ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 9.30CET

Season review: Netherlands

AFC Ajax made it three Eredivisie titles in a row under the guidance of Frank de Boer while AZ Alkmaar saved face after a disappointing league campaign by winning the cup final.

AFC Ajax won a thrilling Dutch Eredivisie title race in which PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord and Vitesse all played their part. PSV, favourites from the off following the arrival of coach Dick Advocaat and experienced midfielder Mark van Bommel, also finished runners-up in the cup final.

Champions: AFC Ajax
Ajax secured their third successive Eredivisie title, and 32nd overall, in the penultimate round of matches, defeating Willem II 5-0. Having hovered around fourth position for much of the campaign, the Amsterdam club hit the front on 10 March after the second of nine wins in their last ten games.

Cup final: AZ Alkmaar 2-1 PSV Eindhoven
AZ compensated for a disappointing tenth-place finish by lifting the cup for the fourth time. Early goals in the Rotterdam showpiece from Adam Maher and Jozy Altidore gave Gertjan Verbeek's team a two-goal lead they would not relinquish, despite Jürgen Locadia reducing PSV's arrears just after the half-hour mark.

European places*
AFC Ajax – UEFA Champions League group stage
PSV Eindhoven – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Feyenoord – UEFA Europa League play-off round
AZ Alkmaar – UEFA Europa League play-off round
Vitesse – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Utrecht – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Wilfried Bony (Vitesse)
The Eredivisie top scorer's 31 goals, four more than Feyenoord's Graziano Pellè, were vital in Vitesse coming fourth and qualifying for Europe. The 24-year-old Ivory Coast striker is strong, skilful, composed and with a knack of being in the right place at the right time.

One to watch: Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse)
Voted talent of the year by a judging panel headed by Johan Cruyff, the 20-year-old was a key midfielder in Fred Rutten's side. Van Ginkel effortlessly assumes excellent positions, is always ready to receive possession, and scores and creates his fair share of goals thanks to his dynamic box-to-box tendencies.

Surprise package: FC Utrecht
Having ended the regular season in fifth spot, Utrecht capped a campaign to remember with a 3-2 aggregate victory over FC Twente in the European play-offs final.

Leading scorer: Wilfried Bony, Vitesse (31)

Relegated: VVV-Venlo and Willem II

Promoted: SC Cambuur and Go Ahead Eagles

Number: 3
Consecutive championships celebrated by Frank de Boer since his appointment as Ajax coach in December 2010. His hat-trick of triumphs means he has emulated the achievement of luminaries Rinus Michels (1966–1968) and Louis van Gaal (1994–1996), under whom De Boer served as a player.

"I would immediately sign up for that."
De Boer's response when asked if he would like to become Ajax's answer to long-serving former Manchester United FC boss Sir Alex Ferguson

Last updated: 31/05/13 9.36CET

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