Preview: FC Utrecht vs. NEC – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday’s Eredivisie clash between FC Utrecht and NEC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two sides aiming to bounce back from tough runs of form will square off on Friday, as FC Utrecht play host to NEC.

Consecutive defeats have seen the visitors drop out of the top half of the Eredivisie table, while their hosts sit seventh despite failing to win any of their last six league games.

Match preview

With 39 points from their opening 24 outings, FC Utrecht looked on track for a seventh consecutive top-six finish in the Eredivisie, but they have since seen their form take a sharp dip.

The Domstedelingen have now failed to win any of their last six matches in the Dutch top flight, picking up just three points in that span.

Former manager Rene Hake departed after three games of that run, but interim boss Rick Kruys has been unable to inspire a turn in form thus far, with his first game at the helm finishing in a 1-1 draw with RKC Waalwijk.

They were then held to the same scoreline at home to Fortuna Sittard before suffering a 2-1 defeat away at Feyenoord last time out, with Sander van de Streek‘s equaliser having looked set to earn them a point until Luis Sinisterra hit the winner for their hosts in the 96th minute.

Despite their difficult spell, Utrecht do remain just two points behind sixth-placed Vitesse, and they will aim to return to winning ways on home turf to boost their chances of a top-six finish.

They meet an NEC side pushing for a top-half place after winning promotion back to the Eredivisie last season.

Rogier Meijer‘s side looked in a good position to do so, as they moved above Go Ahead Eagles thanks to a 2-1 win over Cambuur, with Javier Vet hitting the decisive goal, but they have since suffered back-to-back defeats.

After a 2-0 loss to FC Twente, the newly-promoted side faced the tough test of a home clash with Ajax last time out, and they looked set to earn a valuable point in a goalless draw, only for Brian Brobbey to snatch a winner for the league leaders in the dying embers.

While they cannot be too disheartened by a narrow defeat to the Dutch giants, the pair of losses have seen NEC drop to 10th spot in the top flight, and they will now be keen to bounce back to winning ways with the chance to climb back into the top half.

FC Utrecht Eredivisie form:

NEC Eredivisie form:

Team News

Utrecht will remain without forward Henk Veerman, who arrived in January after hitting seven Eredivisie goals in the first half of the season for Heerenveen, as he continues to nurse an injury.

Anastasios Douvikas will again lead the line in his absence, having hit seven goals and provided three assists in 30 league appearances this term.

Winger Bart Ramselaar was also absent for their last game, and he could continue to miss out, although Sander van der Streek and Moussa Sylla will provide adequate support going forward.

NEC striker Ali Akman will continue to serve a suspension on Friday, while Marseille loanee Pedro Ruiz remains out due to a knee injury.

In the absence of Akman, winger Jonathan Okita moved into a central role and led the line against Ajax, and he could again feature down the middle.

Elayis Tavsan is another man to watch in attack, having netted seven goals this season.

FC Utrecht possible starting lineup:
De Keijzer; Ter Avest, Van Der Hoorn, Janssen, Van Der Kust; Maher, Timber; Sylla, Van Der Streek, Almqvist; Douvikas

NEC possible starting lineup:
Branderhorst; Van Rooij, Guth, Marquez, Verdonk; Schone, Bruijn; Tavsan, Mattsson, El Karouani; Okita

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We say: FC Utrecht 2-1 NEC

While Utrecht have struggled for form recently, their quality could show in a clash between two sides knocked from recent defeats.

Friday’s meeting should be tight with little to split the teams but we lean towards a narrow home victory.

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