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FC Utrecht
Eredivisie | Gameweek 23
Feb 23, 2024 at 7pm UK
Stadion Galgenwaard
Heracles Almelo

1 - 0

Jensen (79')
Toornstra (41'), Elkarouani (74'), van der Hoorn (87')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Sonnenberg (89'), Vejinovic (90+1')

Preview: FC Utrecht vs. Heracles - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Eredivisie clash between FC Utrecht and Heracles, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Looking to continue their charge for a European spot next season, FC Utrecht will welcome top-flight newcomers Heracles to Stadion Galgenwaard on Friday night for an Eredivisie clash.

The Cupfighters recorded an impressive win on the road against FC Twente last time out, while Heraclieden were unable to get the better of league leaders PSV Eindhoven.

Match preview

Ron Jans, now in charge of FC Twente, pictured in September 2019© Reuters

Winning three-straight matches in the Eredivisie for the first time this season, Utrecht boosted their chances of earning Europa Conference League football next term by defeating third-placed Twente at De Grolsch Veste on Sunday afternoon, with the visitors now keeping back-to-back clean sheets.

Despite the Tukkers dominating the ball and creating more clear-cut chances, it was the Cupfighters who returned to Utrecht celebrating maximum points, with Jens Toornstra's third league goal of the 2023-24 term enough to hand Joseph Oosting's men only their fourth loss of the campaign.

Having enjoyed a marvellous 14-game unbeaten run in the Eredivisie since a shock defeat to strugglers Volendam on October 6, Utrecht have moved up to ninth in the top-flight standings, sitting level on points with eighth-placed Sparta Rotterdam but 10 points behind fourth-placed AZ Alkmaar.

After excelling within the youth ranks of Bayern Munich in recent years, attacker Taylor Booth has found a new home at Stadion Galgenwaard since his transfer to the Cupfighters in June 2022, and the American is currently leading the club's Golden Boot race with five Eredivisie goals in 13 appearances.

Utrecht have fared brilliantly during their last two home matches, winning 4-2 against Volendam on February 4 before smashing Fortuna Sittard 4-0 at the same venue a week later, when the aforementioned Booth bagged a brace, while Othman Boussaid and Sam Lammers also got onto the scoresheet.

Following a much-needed 3-2 win over basement dwellers Vitesse the previous weekend, Heracles travelled to Philips Stadion last Friday looking to become the first side to defeat PSV in an Eredivisie meeting this season, but the result was ultimately as most predicted in Eindhoven.

Bryan Limbombe's red card inside the opening 15 minutes of the clash against the unbeaten league leaders made the task even harder for the visitors, and Peter Bosz's men were comfortable victors in the end courtesy of strikes either side of the half-time whistle from Luuk de Jong and Olivier Boscagli.

After securing promotion back to this level as Eerste Divisie champions in 2022-23, the primary remit for Erwin van de Looi is to preserve Heracles' first-tier status for another season, with Friday's visitors currently occupying 14th, possessing a four-point buffer over RKC Waalwijk in the relegation-playoff spot.

As expected from a newly-promoted side gunning for safety, the majority of Heracles' points have been collected at their Erve Asito base this term, with the second-tier winners earning just eight points from 11 Eredivisie outings so far, winning just a pair of matches on the road.

Heraclieden averaged close to three goals per game in Eerste Divisie as they raced to the crown but have lost key attackers Samuel Armenteros and Nikolai Laursen to the Saudi Pro League and injury respectively since the summer, meaning there has been more emphasis on the goalscoring talents of Emil Hansson.

FC Utrecht Eredivisie form:

Heracles Eredivisie form:

Team News

Utrecht are expected to be without the services of Ole Romeny until early March as the 23-year-old recovers from a freak finger injury sustained earlier in the month.

The Cupfighters continue to battle on without their first-choice goalkeeper, with Vasilios Barkas suffering a muscle strain following the 4-2 win over Volendam.

Jans is still light on options at the top end of the pitch due to the absence of Swedish striker Isac Lidberg, who has not featured since December because of an injury.

With attacker Limbombe now suspended after he received his marching orders at PSV, Heracles could hand a starting berth to German attacker Mario Engels.

Centre-back Sava Cestic is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign with a broken ankle, meaning Sven Sonnenberg and captain Justin Hoogma are set to continue at the heart of the visitors' backline.

Diego van Oorschot's breakthrough season in the Eredivisie was halted by a broken leg in October, with the 18-year-old targeting a return to action in March.

FC Utrecht possible starting lineup:
Branderhorst; Ter Avest, Van der Hoorn, Viergever, Elkarouani; Flamingo, Fraulo, Okkels, Toornstra, Boussaid; Lammers

Heracles possible starting lineup:
Brouwer; Wieckhoff, Sonnenberg, Hoogma, Oppegard; Hrustic, De Keersmaecker; Engels, Vejinovic, Hansson; Hornkamp

SM words green background

We say: FC Utrecht 2-1 Heracles

After firing in eight goals during their last two home matches, Utrecht should be confident of securing three points against a Heracles side who struggle on their travels.

Friday's visitors have lost back-to-back away contests recently, and we can envisage that run stretching to three games for Heraclieden at Stadion Galgenwaard.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Today's games header
Tables header RHS
1PSV EindhovenPSV30263195177881
3FC Twente30186656302660
4AZ AlkmaarAZ30167759352455
7FC UtrechtUtrecht3012994341245
8Go Ahead Eagles30119104439542
9Sparta RotterdamSparta30117124543240
11Fortuna SittardSittard3098133452-1835
12Almere CityAlmere City30712113048-1833
13PEC Zwolle3088144058-1832
15SBV ExcelsiorExcelsior30510154464-2025
16RKC WaalwijkRKC Waalwijk3066182950-2124
17FC VolendamVolendam3047193074-4419

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