Following their 1-0 defeat to NEC Nijmegen on Tuesday, relegation from the Eredivisie seems almost certain for FC Groningen. The club have been in the top flight for twenty-three consecutive seasons, but with four games remaining until the end of this season, Groningen sit second-from-bottom on seventeen points, eleven points away from safety.
Groningen’s game against NEC had originally kicked-off last Sunday, but in the 18th minute with the scoreline at 0-0 the match was abandoned after a beer cup thrown from the crowd struck a linesman. On Tuesday the game resumed in the 18th minute and was played behind closed doors. Groningen started brightly, but with just eight minutes left to play, midfielder Laros Duarte pulled down NEC’s Pedro Marques resulting in a red card for Duarte and a penalty kick for NEC. Jordy Bruijn converted from the spot to claim all three points.
Dennis van der Ree’s side have now lost seven league games in a row. To make matters even worse, the two teams just above Groningen in the table (Excelsior and FC Emmen) have both picked up four points in their last three games. Despite the 11 league goals scored by star striker Ricardo Pepi, woeful defending has cost the club throughout the season. Groningen have conceded 60 goals across their 30 games so far. With Ajax, Vitesse and Sparta Rotterdam still left to play, it looks likely that number will increase.
Groningen’s next fixture is against Go Ahead Eagles on May 7th. If they fail to secure a victory, their relegation to the Eerste Divisie will be confirmed. With eleven points needed to have a shot at surviving the drop, Groningen will need to win all their remaining games and hope that either FC Emmen or Excelsior fail to pick up any more points before the end of the season.