Preview: VVV-Venlo vs. Almere City

VVV-Venlo will be aiming to secure a first-leg advantage when they welcome Almere City to De Koel for the first leg of their Eredivisie playoff semi-final on Tuesday night.

The home side secured their spot at this stage by beating Willem II 5-4 on aggregate, while Almere City were 3-2 aggregate winners over Eindhoven in the first round.

Match preview

VVV-Venlo finished seventh in the final Eerste Divisie league table, picking up 58 points from their 38 matches courtesy of a record of 16 wins, 10 draws and 12 defeats.

The Good Old were relegated from the Eredivisie at the end of the 2020-21 campaign, and they finished 10th in the second tier last season before claiming seventh in 2022-23.

Rick Kruys’s side took on Willem II in the first round of the playoffs, and they recorded a 3-2 victory in the first leg of their contest, before a 2-2 draw in the reverse match brought a final aggregate score of 5-4.

VVV-Venlo will now take on Almere City over two legs, and the winner will advance to the final of the playoffs, where either Emmen or NAC Breda will be waiting to play for a spot in the Eredivisie.

The Yellow and Blacks were victorious in both league games against Almere City during the regular season, running out 3-0 winners at home and 3-1 away.

Almere City, meanwhile, overcame Eindhoven in the first round of the playoffs, with Alex Pastoor’s side triumphing 3-2 on aggregate.

The Flevoland-based outfit actually lost 1-0 in the first leg away to Eindhoven but managed to record a 3-1 victory after extra-time in the return game to progress to the semi-finals.

Rajiv van La Parra netted the tie’s decisive goal in the 109th minute of the second leg, and Almere City will now be looking to move to a step closer to earning promotion to the top tier of Dutch football for the first time.

Pastoor’s team picked up 70 points from their 38 matches during the regular season, although they finished comfortably behind the top two, with Heracles Almelo winning the division with 85 points, which was the same amount that PEC Zwolle managed to gather to finish second.

Almere City have impressed on their travels this season, boasting the second-best away record during the regular campaign, while VVV-Venlo found it difficult to show consistency at home, picking up just 25 points from 19 matches, winning just six times in the process.

Team News

VVV-Venlo head coach Kruys will need to assess the fitness of his players due to the quick turnaround from the second leg with Willem II.

It seems unlikely that Levi Smans will be available for selection, as the 20-year-old was forced off in the early stages of Saturday’s game, so Daan Huisman could come into the XI.

There is also concern surrounding the availability of Sem Dirks, who was forced off at the interval against Willem II last time out, which could open the door for Brian Koglin to come into the side.

Almere City, meanwhile, have no fresh injury concerns from the second leg of their clash with Eindhoven on Friday.

As a result, it would not be a surprise to see head coach Pastoor keep faith with the side that started the second leg of the first-round playoff contest, with Alvaro Pena retaining his spot in central midfield.

Jeredy Hilterman has been the team’s main source of goals this season, finding the back of the net on 15 occasions, and the 24-year-old is set to again lead the line on Tuesday night.

VVV-Venlo possible starting lineup:
Van der Gouw; Dekker, Ketting, Koglin, Janssen; De Boer, Klaasen, Van Rooijen; Venema, Huisman, Braken

Almere City possible starting lineup:
Bakker; Akujobi, Van Bruggen, Barbet, Smeets; Van de Kamp, Pena, Resink; Pascu, Hilterman, Duijvestijn

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