Eredivise Conference League Playoffs, Thursday, 01/06/2023

In the Dutch league, the playoffs for the international places are on the agenda after the season. In the play-off for the Conference League, Sparta Rotterdam have to play FC Utrecht in the first leg.

While Utrecht finished the season in an upper midfield position in the table, as they have done for the last four years, the Rotterdam side achieved their best finish since promotion in 2018.

Therefore, Sparta are also the clear underdogs with the bookmakers. However, in my Utrecht Sparta Rotterdam prediction, I expect a contested match.

Why I still bet on Utrecht to win and score a few goals, you can read in my preview of the play-off first leg for the Conference League

As in the last years, FC Utrecht will play in the play-offs for the international places.

After Utrecht always narrowly failed in the playoffs in the last seasons, the chances in the first duel against Sparta Rotterdam are more than good.

The bookmakers also see it that way, favouring Utrecht with around 1.85 in the play-off first leg.

But Sparta Rotterdam have also gained play-off experience in recent years. However, Sparta failed to beat current champions and city rivals Feyenoord in 2021.

In terms of current form, both teams are very similar. Only two defeats from the last seven league games initially point to an even match.

That’s why the odds for both teams to score are not very high at around 1.64. Utrecht’s recent home form, on the other hand, argues in favour of a win.

With three wins in a row, Utrecht will go into the first leg with full self-confidence. In total, the seventh-placed team in the table has only suffered four defeats at home this season.

Sparta Rotterdam also suffered the same number of defeats at home. The current away performances are also impressive.

With four wins and only one defeat from the last six games, the odds of around 3.80 on Sparta to win seem a little too high to me.

Because both offensively and defensively, Sparta have not been easy opponents this season. With 37 goals conceded, the Rotterdam side have the fourth best defence in the league and have conceded more than one goal in only one of their last seven league games.

At around 1.77, the value on two goals from Utrecht is correspondingly somewhat higher. But Rotterdam have not only been stable defensively, the sixth-placed team in the table can also present good offensive figures.

With 60 goals, Sparta does not have as good an attacking line as the top teams, but Utrecht has to watch out for Can Crooij and Lauritsen in particular.

Both strikers scored over ten goals last season and also scored in a 5-0 win over Groningen on the last matchday.

Not only do the odds of around 1.69 for more than two goals in the course of the match suggest a high-scoring duel, but also the fact that Utrecht also have a top scorer in their ranks.

Of Utrecht’s 55 goals, Anastasios Douvikas has scored 19. The striker thus has as many goals as PSV striker Simons.

The likelihood of Douvikas scoring again seems relatively high, given his recent form of six goals in the last four league games.

The striker also scored in the first leg against Rotterdam. With another goal, Douvikas could become the absolute top scorer.

The chances are very good when looking at the statistics. This season, Utrecht gave Rotterdam no chance at all with two commanding victories in both the first and second legs.

In general, Rotterdam seems to suit FC. In 36 matches, Utrecht have won 21 of their encounters.

In only seven matches did Sparta come out on top, but they won six of the seven matches in their own stadium.

Utrecht’s record, on the other hand, is even clearer. Sparta only managed to win one match at Utrecht, with 12 victories for the hosts.

This dominance is also reflected in the results. In only two of the last seven meetings Sparta managed to score a goal.

Utrecht, on the other hand, have seemed to be in a scoring mood in their last five meetings, always scoring at least three times.

That’s why the odds for the first goal on Utrecht’s side are set much lower at around 1.65 than the opening goal for Rotterdam at around 2.47.

Conclusion: Nevertheless, I think that especially in the playoffs the game could be a bit closer. After all, both teams are playing for the international places and will give it their all again.

It is clear that Utrecht has the better individual players and a top scorer in their ranks. However, Rotterdam is also very well positioned both defensively and offensively.

In terms of current form, both teams are in great form with only two defeats from the last seven games, but the overall balance is clearly in favour of Utrecht.

Nevertheless, I also think Rotterdam can do a lot offensively, but I predict a win for the hosts in the end.

My Utrecht Sparta Rotterdam tip is: Win Utrecht & over 1.5 goals.