By Olav Sierag
Back in April, AZ Alkmaar played against Feyenoord in the 100th final of the KNVB Beker – the Dutch Cup. Every season it stands out in the Dutch football calendar as one of the highlights. A final is always a great experience. In The Netherlands the expectations are well known: a lot of buses on the highway, a sold-out game and loads of fireworks. Not only on the stands, also on the field.
This year Feyenoord should have been satisfied with every draw thrown their way, as they didn’t play a single away game. However, we should remember the fact they defeated PSV in the quarter final. Only a few clubs defeated PSV this year.
AZ wasn’t so lucky with their draws this season. With trips to cities like Sittard and Maastricht, they accumalated more kilometers than anyone else in the Netherlands. Fortunately the fans were rewarded with reaching the next round each and every time.
Like every year the final was played in De Kuip, one of the most impressive stadiums of The Netherlands. With a capacity of 51,117 it’s the second biggest in the country. In the past a lot of important matches took place in Feyenoord’s home, including several European finals, with Feyenoord – Dortmund the last one in 2002.
Nowadays, De Kuip isn’t the modern stadium UEFA search for. But the fans in Rotterdam don’t care about that. De Kuip is connected to the club. It breathes football. A sold-out match brings an intimidating atmosphere. It doesn’t surprise you that fans have protested for a while against the club’s plan to build a new stadium.
On the other hand, AZ were excellent throughout the 2017-18 season. Many people called them ‘the team which plays the most attractive football’ and considered AZ as a very talented team with a lot of potency. On the other hand Feyenoord had a disappointing season. Having been Eredivisie champions in 2017, they could not hold their standards this year.
Nevertheless, Feyenoord defeated AZ twice this season. In Alkmaar they dominated AZ, who had an off-day. In Rotterdam AZ was a bit unlucky not getting a 100% penalty. But as you know, in a final everything starts again!
Before the game the atmosphere on both sides was excellent. Combined with the fine weather it promised a great day for us. Accompanied with a lot of firework on the stands, the players entered the field. I am not a supporter of both clubs, but my seat was in the AZ end. We had nice places around the corner flag. Because of this I had a great view of both groups of supporters. On the left Feyenoord’s side, with Alkmaar fans to the right of me.
Despite this AZ did not reach the level they had played for the rest of the season. Yet in the first half, neither did Feyenoord, but they at least managed to score after thirty minutes to go 1-0 up at the half-time break.
A lot of scenario’s could have occurred in the second half. AZ nearly scored two goals with the strong attackers they possessed. Unluckily for them, Feyenoord made it 2-0 following a fine counter-attack. AZ battled hard to get back into the final, yet this wasn’t to be their year. In stoppage time, Feyenoord completed the victory and started the party by making it 3-0, and with that AZ lost their second final in two years.
A lot of disappointed faces sat around me. This wasn’t the final they expected. The great AZ everyone has been talking about, did not show up today. The 15,000 fans travelled back home in dire moods.
And the other side of the stadium? They celebrated the win until late.
All in all, a fine final. The game wasn’t spectacular, but Feyenoord made a great tifo with a lot of smokebombs. AZ also didn’t forget their fireworks and won the vocal battle in the stands. Next year will be the 101st final of the cup. Obviously I can’t say I will attend the final, but one thing is for sure: let’s hope we can enjoy many more finals in De Kuip!
Video compilation AZ:
Video compilation Feyenoord: