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Season review: Netherlands

Published: Thursday 29 May 2014, 9.35CET
AFC Ajax won a historic fourth straight Eredivisie title but lost the cup final to PEC Zwolle, while Icelandic "phenomenon" Alfred Finnbogason top-scored with 29 goals.
by Berend Scholten
Season review: Netherlands
Ajax finished on top of the pile once again in the Netherlands ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Thursday 29 May 2014, 9.35CET

Season review: Netherlands

AFC Ajax won a historic fourth straight Eredivisie title but lost the cup final to PEC Zwolle, while Icelandic "phenomenon" Alfred Finnbogason top-scored with 29 goals.

A 22-match unbeaten run from early November onwards carried AFC Ajax to their fourth consecutive Eredivisie title. PEC Zwolle prevented Frank de Boer's men from making it a double, however, upsetting the champions with a stunning 5-1 victory in the Dutch Cup final.

Champions: AFC Ajax
The Amsterdam side took time to find their rhythm – they were sixth after 12 games having lost to PSV Eindhoven (4-0) and Vitesse (1-0). By the midway point of the campaign, though, they were hot on the latter's heels in second place. They were top by Christmas and wrapped up the championship with one round of fixtures to spare as the four-time European Cup winners ended the season 22 league matches unbeaten.

Cup final: PEC Zwolle 5-1 AFC Ajax
Ajax's double hopes were dashed emphatically by unfancied Zwolle. Leading through Ricardo van Rhijn's early strike, Ajax trailed 4-1 by half-time following two goals apiece from Ryan Thomas and Guyon Fernandez. Bram van Polen increased Zwolle's advantage early in the second period, rubber-stamping the club's first major silverware.

European places*
AFC Ajax – UEFA Champions League group stage
Feyenoord – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
FC Twente – UEFA Europa League play-offs
PSV Eindhoven – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
FC Groningen – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
PEC Zwolle – UEFA Europa League play-offs

*subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the Year: Daley Blind (AFC Ajax)
The 24-year-old son of Ajax's 1995 UEFA Champions League-winning captain Danny Blind started out as a left-back, but during the campaign was deployed as a holding midfielder and played a key role in his team going two-thirds of the season without defeat.

One to watch: Davy Klaassen (AFC Ajax)
The academy product, 21, became a first-team regular in 2013/14, making 26 Eredivisie appearances and finishing as the club's ten-goal joint-top scorer alongside Kolbeinn Sigthórsson. That earned him the title of Talent of the Year, as part-judged by Ajax great Johan Cruyff.

Surprise package: PEC Zwolle
Zwolle, in their second Eredivisie season since returning to the top flight, headed the way after six games. Playing an attacking brand of football, Ron Jans's side eventually finished 11th and can next term look forward to a first European campaign following their cup destruction of Ajax.

Leading scorer: Alfred Finnbogason, sc Heerenveen (29)

Relegated: NEC Nijmegen, RKC Waalwijk, Roda JC

Promoted: Willem II, FC Dordrecht, SBV Excelsior

Number: 4
For the first time in their illustrious history, Ajax have lifted four league titles in succession, matching PSV's haul between 1985/86 and 1988/89. De Boer is also the first coach to achieve the feat, surpassing the accomplishment of celebrated predecessors Rinus Michels (1966–68) and Louis van Gaal (1994–96).

Quote
"He's cool, he has vision and a fine nose for goal. He could become a phenomenon."
sc Heerenveen coach and former Dutch international Marco van Basten praising his Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason

Last updated: 29/05/14 9.38CET

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