Top three in Holland go on the road

This weekend is Sinterklaas, the day of Christmas gift-giving, but it remains to be seen who will get the biggest presents in the Eredivisie.

The top three clubs all go on the road following midweek Europa League exertions, and although top two FC Twente and PSV Eindhoven are up against two of the league’s strugglers, they should not expect anything to be easy on Sunday.

Twente boss Steve McClaren wants his team to take out their frustrations on NEC Nijmegen after a disappointing night in Europe.

A 1-0 home loss to Europa League Group H leaders Fenerbahce means Twente must win away to Steaua Bucharest next week to remain in the competition.

But their European struggles continue to contrast with strong domestic form, as they remain unbeaten and have won 10 in a row in the Eredivisie.

McClaren’s men will be confident of continuing that run against an NEC team down in 15th place and without a win in nine, but the former England boss knows they must play better than they did against Fener.

“We should have scored and also kept a clean sheet,” he said.

“I think that given our two games against Fenerbahce, we deserve to continue, but we will need to prove that in Bucharest.

“On Sunday NEC are waiting and the team must show a positive reaction following the outcome of this match.”

Should Twente slip, PSV will aim to pounce when they take on basement club RKC Waalwijk, also on Sunday.

Third-placed Ajax go into their game at fifth-placed Utrecht boosted by a 2-1 win over FC Timisoara as they came from behind with goals from Marko Pantelic and Luis Sanchez.

Utrecht have gone through a sticky patch of late, losing two of their last four games.

However, Ajax would do well not to take the challenge lightly, something Martin Jol seemed to be doing last weekend after the 5-1 thrashing of Vitesse Arnhem.

“All our tough games we have now played,” he said. “Our competitors cannot say that.”

Such comments have no doubt been seen by the Utrecht players, who will be keen to make Jol eat his words on Sunday.

The Sinterklaas celebrations means there are no games on Saturday, with four matches tomorrow night instead.

AZ Alkmaar have won two in a row as they bid to get their faltering challenge for a European berth back on track, and will aim for a third consecutive win against struggling Vitesse Arnhem.

At the other end of the table, 17th-placed Roda JC take on 16th-placed ADO Den Haag in a battle of relegation-threatened clubs, while the match between VVV Venlo and Willem II also pairs two struggling clubs.

NAC Breda and Sparta Rotterdam face off in a mid-table clash.

Sunday’s other games see fourth-placed Feyenoord host FC Groningen, while high-flying Heracles Almelo take on a resurgent Heerenveen.