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Monday, January 21, 2008
Eredivisie relegation battle heating up

The race to beat the drop heats up on Tuesday as the Eredivisie's bottom two sides look to boost their survival hopes.

Willem II and Excelsior are both in action, looking to respond to the shock results fellow strugglers Sparta Rotterdam and NEC Nijmegen pulled off on Sunday.

Sparta hit six past De Graafschap while NEC held title-chasing Ajax to leave a mere three points separating the bottom six.

Rock-bottom Willem II host in-form Vitesse Arnhem, who have taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer to climb into a UEFA Cup play-off spot.

Andries Jonker's team in contrast are after only their fourth win of the campaign, and went down to their eighth single-goal defeat at NAC Breda on Saturday.

Excelsior travel to Heracles, themselves just a point away from the relegation play-off spots, still looking for their first win on the road.

But they go into the game on the back of a fantastic 2-1 win over high-flying Feyenoord.

With their only other points since mid-November coming against Ajax, Excelsior appear to be able to raise their game for the big occasion, but it is against their relegation rivals where it matters most.

Heracles, who boast the division's lowest goal tally, certainly fall into that category and will be eager to bounce back from their weekend defeat to Vitesse.

Away from the relegation dogfight, AZ Alkmaar will be looking to halt their dramatic fall from grace against NAC.

Louis van Gaal's men, who were denied the Eredivisie crown on the final day of last season, were trounced 4-0 by Heerenveen on Saturday to slip into the bottom-half of the table.

The previous weekend they were on the receiving end of a 6-1 hiding by Ajax as all evidence of last term's achievements disappeared.

On Wednesday, league leaders PSV Eindhoven welcome a rejuvenated Sparta side looking to maintain their three-point lead at the top.

PSV could only manage a draw with lowly VVV Venlo last time out and with both Ajax and Feyenoord hot on their heels will be anxious to avoid another slip up.

The Amsterdam side host an FC Utrecht outfit with their sights set on the top five, while Heerenveen are also hunting a Champions League play-off spot and will look to boost their chances with victory over VVV.

Elsewhere, De Graafschap need to forget their dire display against Sparta when they take on Roda JC, while FC Groningen can move up to third with a win over NEC.

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