Preview: NEC vs. Go Ahead Eagles – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Eredivisie clash between NEC and Go Ahead Eagles, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

NEC welcome Go Ahead Eagles to Goffertstadion for an Eredivisie Europa playoff semi-final on Thursday night.

The victors of this one-legged affair will face the winners of the second semi-final between FC Utrecht and Sparta Rotterdam for a chance to secure a place in the Europa Conference League qualifying rounds for next season.

Match preview

Following back-to-back bottom-half finishes in the previous two Eredivisie campaigns, NEC have ended the 2023-24 season in sixth place, their highest top-flight finish for over two decades.

The Gelderland-based outfit have equalled their points record from the 1971-72 season (53) after coming from behind to thrash Almere City 4-1 away from home in their final match of the regular season last weekend.

Goals from Kodai Sano, Dirk Proper, Koki Ogawa and Tjaronn Chery helped Rogier Meijer‘s side cruise to their 14th league win of the season, six more than the previous campaign, and they require just two more triumphs to secure their spot in the qualification phase for next season’s Conference League.

NEC have not competed in European competition since the 2008-09 season when they were eliminated in the round of 32 by Hamburger SV in the UEFA Cup.

Meijer, who will serve a one-match touchline ban on Thursday, is now tasked with returning the club to Europe and must navigate his side past a Go Ahead Eagles outfit whom they beat 2-1 in their last home meeting in January.

Go Ahead Eagles have only won two of the last eight encounters with NEC and they travel to Goffertstadion following an inconsistent end to the regular Eredivisie campaign.

Indeed, Rene Hake‘s men registered just two victories in their final 10 league matches, although one of those was a 2-1 away success over FC Volendam last weekend courtesy of goals from Philippe Rommens and Enric Llansana.

Nevertheless, the Overijssel-based club never looked in danger of slipping below ninth spot heading down the home straight and they still managed to improve on last season’s 11th-placed finish.

Go Ahead Eagles are now bidding to qualify for European competition for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign when they reached the first qualifying round of the Europa League, losing out to Ferencvaros over two legs – you have to go all the way back to 1965-66 for their only previous European appearance in the first round of the Cup Winners’ Cup, losing 7-0 on aggregate to Celtic.

NEC Eredivisie form:

NEC form (all competitions):

Go Ahead Eagles Eredivisie form:

Team News

NEC are still having to cope without Bart van Rooij and Philippe Sandler who are nursing hamstring injuries, while Yvandro Borges Sanches (ACL) and Bas Dost (heart condition) remain long-term absentees.

Bram Nuytinck is available to return after serving a one-match ban last weekend and he is set to push for a recall at the heart of defence, while the rest of Meijer’s lineup could remain intact.

As for Go Ahead Eagles, Mats Deijl missed last weekend’s game due to a knee injury and the defender is not expected to recover in time for Thursday’s fixture.

Luca Everink is therefore set to continue at right-back, joining Jamal Amofa, Gerrit Nauber and Bas Kuipers in the back four, while there are unlikely to be too many changes, if any, in midfield or attack, with Oliver Valaker Edvardsen and Victor Edvardsen, who have scored 17 goals between them this term, expected to continue in the final third.

NEC possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Pereira, Nuytinck, Verdonk, Bass; Proper, Hoedemakers; Hansen, Chery, Sano; Ogawa

Go Ahead Eagles possible starting lineup:
De Lange; Everink, Nauber, Kramer, Kuipers; Linthorst, Rommens; Adekanye, Breum, O. Edvardsen; V. Edvardsen

We say: NEC 2-1 Go Ahead Eagles

A closely-fought contest between two evenly-matched teams is set to be played out on Thursday, and although NEC have failed to win their last three home games, we believe that they will find a way to come out on top this time around.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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