‘Mo’ kills the rumours against FC Utrecht, De Graafschap first KNVB Cup opponent

De Graafschap - PSV logo's. Photo credit: Supportersvereniging PSV

Mohamed Ihattaren proved he’s back on the right track and killed all the rumours about the negative relationship with Roger Schmidt. FC Utrecht was sent home without a point, and PSV is now in full preparation for the first KNVB Cup match of the season.

First half

Roger Schmidt sent his strongest eleven to the pitch: Mvogo; Dumfries (C), Teze, Boscagli, Max; Sangaré, Rosario; Götze, Gakpo; Malen and Ihattaren. The most logical choice was to have Jordan Teze and Olivier Boscagli as central defenders, because FC Utrecht has really fast strikers, in particular Gyrano Kerk. It didn’t take more than two minutes for him to make his first rush and prove Schmidt right with his decisions so far.

Utrecht got their first chance from a counter that followed after Pablo Rosario lost the ball, but Sander van de Streek missed the target, while Kerk’s opening goal in the 16th minute got denied due to offside. On the other side of the pitch, the blues clearly planned how to stop Philipp Max becoming successful with his typical assists towards the first goalpost. On most occasions during a PSV attack, the ‘Domstedelingen’ pulled back with five to eight people in their own penalty box. However, Donyell Malen needed only one good pass from Mario Götze to kick in from behind his standing leg in the 30th minute.

The beauty of the 2-0 was not only in the way it was kicked in but also in the way it was celebrated. Mohamed Ihattaren himself opened the attack with a cross pass on Philipp Max, and via Cody Gakpo and Malen, the ball ended back in front of his own feet. The finish in the far upper corner was beautiful, the joy and celebration with his colleagues – and especially Schmidt and the bench sitters – spoke volumes. Kerk’s following shot in the last minutes again missed the target, and PSV gave nothing away before tea time.

Philips Stadion. Photo Credit: Joey van der Hart

Second half

Five and a half minutes into the second half, Kerk moved past Max but failed to cause real danger. PSV played much closer to their own goal and left the initiative to FC Utrecht. Five minutes later Schmidt brought Jorrit Hendrix for Götze and moved Rosario back as the fifth defender.

FC Utrecht changed offensively and brought Mimoun Mahi and Moussa Sylla for Simon Gustafson. Yvon Mvogo had to stretch himself to block a shot from Kerk, this time on target. Twenty minutes before time, Mahi finally managed to bring the 2-1 on the clock, and his team back in the game.

PSV now found themselves in a similar position as to where they have been often during second halves, this season. Another chance followed in the 77th minute, and Schmidt decided it was time for ‘fresh legs’ again, with Nick Viergever for Max and Yorbe Vertessen for Malen. A great moment for the Belgian striker from PSV Under 21, who made his debut after recovering from two years of serious injuries.

Mahi got an enormous chance on the equalizer some minutes later, but he missed. Vertessen then failed to score his first goal, on two following occasions. PSV had nothing else to do but defend their lead in the last minutes. Utrecht kept pressing and got several corner kicks. A serious chance in the 92nd minute was blocked by Rosario, who saved with a header the next minute. Watch the full resume right here.


Various analysts drew dramatic conclusions from this match, mainly on the basis of a lesser second half. The decline after teatime – which has happened in several previous matches already  – has apparently become a focal point to many, even though now PSV are winning their matches – despite the lack of dominance. Pablo Rosario’s statement is probably best, to sum up, what his squad have to say about it:” We didn’t play well, but it’s the kind of match wherein you show you are also able to fight and win together”.

Because Vitesse dropped two points against sc Heerenveen, PSV took over the second position on the ranking again. Ajax won their game with 4-0, so the gap in the goal difference between both teams enlarged to no less than 24. This is most likely a focal point for the training sessions after Christmas and New Year’s eve. Until then, Schmidt and his men will be happy with winning the remaining three matches of 2020. First up is the first KNVB Cup match of this season, against BV De Graafschap.

Next opponent: De Graafschap

‘Betaald Voetbal de Graafschap’ is the current number three from the Dutch Keuken Kampioen Divisie, the second-highest league of the Netherlands. The so-called blue-white zebras are what you could consider a typical elevator team. Since the Doetinchem squad joined the Eredivisie in 1973, they relegated and promoted back no less than nine times, with the number eight position in 1997 as highest ranking ever. The last promotion took place in 2018, but the season after they relegated back to the Keuken Kampioen Divisie.

De Graafschap club logo. Photo Credit: De Graafschap


De Graafschap was established in 1954 in Doetinchem, a small city in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. The club plays their home matches at De Vijverberg, which has a capacity of 12.600 visitors. Under normal circumstances, they are supported by dedicated fans known for their ‘Achterhoekse’ (regional) mentality and easygoing attitude. Their absence on the ‘Spinnekop’ (Spiderhead side) will be dearly missed, also because of their amazing ‘tifos’ (also here) with which they’ve made fame.

Throughout history, PSV and De Graafschap played 48 matches against each other. PSV won 37 and lost only four times, scoring 145 and conceding 37 goals. De Graafschap never won in Eindhoven. Both teams played against each other for the KNVB Cup tournament three times, and PSV won all three. The goal average of these matches was 4,33 against 1,00.

The last Cup match took place on 23 September of 2009, with a 2-1 victory for PSV as result. De Graafschap never won the KNVB Cup nor became national champions, but were champions of the second division three times: in 1991, 2007 and 2010.

8 Mei 2016

The most memorable De Graafschap moment for PSV is undoubtedly the last day of the Eredivisie competition on 8 May 2016. Ajax was about to become national champions in Doetinchem but was kept on a draw after a goal by Bryan Smeets in the 55th minute. The midfielder later admitted to having always been an Ajax-fan and received numerous threats after he kept the Amsterdammers from winning their 34th championship. Meanwhile, PSV won against PEC, in Zwolle, with the 24th national title as a result.

Familiar faces

Guus Hiddink was a professional football player at both de Graafschap and PSV, where he later also had two very successful periods as head coach. Current Chelsea-scout Piet de Visser was head coach of de Graafschap between 1971 and 1974, and scout for PSV between 1993 and 2008; not exactly the least successful period of the Eindhoven club. Jurrie Koolhof scored many goals for both teams in the 80s and 90s.

Ernie Brandts and Patrick Paauwe played for both teams and became trainers at PSV. Edwin de Wijs played only for De Graafschap but is now assistant coach of PSV Under 21, similar to Darije Kalezić, who even made it to head coach of the Under 21 between 2013 and 2015.

Nigel Bertrams, Stefan Nijland, Boy Waterman and Stijn Wuytens played for both clubs, but the best-known players who are also still active are without doubt Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luuk de Jong. Huntelaar is a youth exponent of de Graafschap, who got a four Yorbeyear contract at PSV but didn’t manage to break through after his debut. Especially Mateja Kežman, who scored 105 goals in 122 matches, was too good for him. Luuk de Jong, also a De Graafschap youth exponent, had a much better period in Eindhoven.

8 Mei 2016 monument. Photo Credit: Joey van der Hart

Current situation

Last season, before the corona epidemic, De Graafschap held the second position. Currently, they are third, just below SC Cambuur and Almere City FC and above teams like N.E.C. Nijmegen, FC Volendam, NAC Breda, Go Ahead Eagles, Roda JC Kerkrade and Excelsior. All these are experienced Eredivisie clubs, of which are there some typical elevator teams.

The most notable thing is that only two of De Graafschap’s 28 selection members do not have a Dutch passport: Belgian midfielder Hamza Bouihrouchane, who hasn’t played a single match yet, and the Greek striker Ioannis Mystakidis, who gave one assist in eight appearances. Many players have a lot of experience, a lot of them are in their twenties and some in their thirties.

As a typical Dutch team befits, they are accompanied by several young talents, one of them being Joey Konings. The 22-year-old striker played at the PSV Youth Academy seven years before he made his debut for the Under 21 in November of 2015. He moved to Heracles Almelo transfer free in 2018 and has given one assist in 13 matches for De Graafschap so far.

Defender Julian Lelieveld has been very useful with four assists, the most of all his team members. Midfielder Elmo Lieftink has already scored six goals, leaving only striker Ralf Seuntjes ahead with nine goals. Daryl van Mieghem and Mohamed Hamdoui both scored five goals and gave two assists, the same amount as midfielders Johnatan Opoku and Danny Verbeek.

Situation PSV

Roger Schmidt substituted five players last Sunday, so it is expected that most players are fit enough to start on Wednesday. Obviously this doesn’t count for Richie Ledezma and Maxi Romero, but Érick Gutiérrez and Armando Obispo are getting fitter by the week. It remains to be seen whether Noni Madueke and Eran Zahavi will be part of the selection who are driving to Doetinchem.

Match information

Match:                               De Graafschap – PSV

Date:                                 Wednesday 16 December 2020

Time:                                 18:45 (6:45 PM)

Location:                            Stadion de Vijverberg, Doetinchem

Referee:                             Jochem Kamphuis

VAR:                                  not available

Broadcast:                          Fox Sports

Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News

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