PSV receive FC Utrecht as Europa League group winner

Philips Stadion. Photo Credit: Joey van der Hart

In just over a month PSV has turned everything around. They finish 2020 as Europa League group winner and can now focus on the national cup and the Eredivisie competition. FC Utrecht is the first of the four remaining matches of this year.

Compared to last Sunday, PSV started with no less than seven different players at the kick-off: Mvogo; Dumfries (C), Baumgartl, Viergever, Max; Rosario, Hendrix; Ihattaren, Ledezma; Malen and Piroe. Richie Ledezma and Joel Piroe made their debut in the starting eleven of a Europa League match, while Unnerstall, DeLanghe, Sangaré, Fein, Teze, Gakpo and Boscagli took place on the bench.

UEFA Europa League.

AC Omonia clearly was going to play wait-and-see, leaving all initiative to PSV. With eight or nine men behind the ball, nothing spectacular happened in the early stage of the match. The first big moment was when Ledezma got injured in the fourteenth minute. He went down screaming after a seemingly innocent duel with his direct opponent and had to be carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

With Adrian Fein as a replacement, the Eindhoven side continued their search for an opening. First, they got a corner after 21 minutes, and the first chance for Donyell Malen followed soon after. Philipp Max’ shot forced goalkeeper Fabiano de Freitas to stretch out to the upper short corner, while Hendrix’ shot went over the flat post.

Because The Nicosians were mostly playing their backs close to their own goal, PSV pulled back a bit more and let them come out of their comfort zone. This was a bit more dangerous for the Eindhoven side, but it was Malen who scored the opening goal soon after. A goal reminiscent of the opening goal against Granada, with a similar assist from Max to the first goalpost. A free-kick for Omonia just outside the penalty box was uneventful, in the extra time PSV failed to kill the game. A chance for Malen and the following corner kick as a result of the same were both useless.

Second half

Roger Schmidt decided to start the second half with Cody Gakpo for Malen, Olivier Boscagli for Max and Ibrahim Sangaré for Pablo Rosario. The first danger came already in the second minute, but Mohamed Ihattaren’s shot and both two rebounds got blocked. Nothing much happened for a while until Denzel Dumfries got taken down in the penalty box in the 61st minute. The captain took the responsibility himself and didn’t fail to bring his team into a stronger lead position.

Nick Viergever –  who seems to have recovered finally –  was unlucky with a handball in the 69th minute, but Jordi Gómez kicked the penalty next to the goalpost. Dumfries was replaced by Jordan Teze, ten minutes before the final whistle. Just when the game seemed to fade to grey, in the extra time, Fein gave a smart pass to Piroe, who brought the scoreboard to 3-0. Two minutes later, the same duo ensured the 4-0 to be the final score.

Europa League last 32. Photo Credit: UEFA

Meanwhile, PAOK Saloniki kept Granada CF on a 0-0 draw. This means PSV is group winner after a very difficult period. Who had expected this, after the second half at Toumba stadium on 5 November? The draw for the knock-out stage will take place this Monday (14 December) at 13:00 (1PM) at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland. Learn all about the last 32 contenders through this link.

Next opponent: FC Utrecht

FC Utrecht had a disappointing season so far and find themselves back on the nineth position of the Eredivisie ranking. One of their earlier matches was cancelled due to the corona-virus, against direct opponent AZ. Both teams have stated that they want to attack the classic top three, but haven’t managed to put that into practice this season yet. Head coach John van de Brom left the club last month, in order to pursue his career at KRC Genk. He won all his first three matches in Belgium and managed what he failed to do in Utrecht: take the lead position in the national competition.


FC Utrecht was established on 1 July 1970, after a fusion between VV DOS, USV Elinkwijk and Velox. These clubs were important at the start of the careers of great players, such as Hans Kraaij sr., Wesley Sneijder (both DOS), Ibrahim Afellay, Marco van Basten, Gerald Vanenburg (Elinkwijk), Cor Adelaar, Willem van Hanegem and Ronald Spelbos (Velox). Some of the big names who defended the colours of FC Utrecht as a club, are Hans van Breukelen, Dirk Kuijt, Dries Mertens, Włodzimierz Smolarek and Jan Wouters.

The football club never became national champions but won the KNVB Cup three times. The last time, in 2004 they also took the Dutch Super Cup, after beating Ajax – with Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Ibrahimovic – with 2-4 at the Johan Cruyff ArenA.  Their most memorable season was probably that of 2010/11, when they played against Liverpool FC, SSC Napoli and Steaua Boekarest, after beating Celtic FC in the play-offs.

Club logo ’50 years’. Photo credit: FC Utrecht

Facts and figures

PSV and FC Utrecht played 107 matches against each other throughout history. PSV won 71 times and lost on only 13 occasions, scoring 259 and conceding 87 goals altogether. Coming Sunday will be the 50th meeting in the context of the Eredivisie competition. Of the former 49, PSV kept the points in Eindhoven 43 times, shared them five times and saw all three points go to Utrecht only once. With 144 goals scored and only 23 conceded, the average is 2,94 – 0,47 per match.

The last victory for FC Utrecht dates back to 25 October of 1980, when the final score was 2-3. Almost seven years later PSV booked their biggest victory and sent the Utrechters home with 9-0. The last match at the Philips Stadium took place on 11 August 2018, with a 4-0 result for PSV.

Familiar faces

Many players have defended the colours of both clubs. Hans van Breukelen, Michael Lamey, Dries Mertens, Erik Pieters, Bart Ramselaar, Adil Ramzi, Robbin Ruiter, Khalid Sinouh, Kevin Strootman, Gerald Vanenburg and Jan Wouters were part of Domstedelingen squads before they came to Eindhoven. Riechedly Bazoer, Timothy Derijck, Mitchell van der Gaag, Menno Koch, Zakaria Labyad, Danny Koevermans, Justin Lonwijk, Theo Lucius, Adam Maher, Tom van Mol, Bart Ramselaar and Jeroen Zoet all tried their luck in the fourth big city of the Netherlands when they saw their chances in PSV’s A-selection fade away.

Dick Advocaat (currently Feyenoord Rotterdam), Henk Fraser (currently Sparta Rotterdam) and Erik ten Hag (currently Ajax Amsterdam) played for FC Utrecht in their professional career, and later became head coach, youth trainer or assistant coach at PSV.  John de Jong not only played for both clubs, but was head scout between 2013 and 2018, and has since been the technical manager of PSV.

Eredivisie logo. Photo credit: Eredivisie

Current situation

Goalkeeper Maarten Paes, Justin Hoogma, Mark van der Maarel, Tommy St. Jago and Django Warmerdam are the sure shots in Utrecht’s defence, with van der Maarel being the most experienced one. Simon Gustafson, Bart Ramselaar and Sander van de Streek usually form the midfield, while Adam Maher is often a substitute and PSV youth exponent Justin Lonwijk only a benchwarmer so far. Mimoun Mahi and the extremely fast Gyrano Kerk both scored two goals and gave one assist. Eljero Elia hasn’t been himself since he moved back to the Netherlands, with zero goals or assists in nine matches in total.

The numbers for FC Utrecht are worrisome at best: two wins, six draws, two losses, 11 goals scored and 14 conceded in ten matches. On 6 November René Hake was appointed interim head coach. He is said to be ambitious and willing to keep the job in the new year. So far he lost the home match against Ajax with 0-3, then drew against PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord away, and against ADO Den Haag at home. He used the same starting eleven in the last two matches, so he might have found his favourite line-up already. If all players are fit, he will probably start with Paes, Van der Maarel, Bergström, Hoogma, Warmerdam, Ramselaar, Van Overeem, Gustafson, Kerk, Van de Streek and Mahi.

Situation PSV

The team in Eindhoven just heard the news that Ledezma has torn the anterior cruciate ligament of his right knee. Months of recovery await him and it is already clear that the attacking midfielder will no longer be able to take action for PSV this season. One positive thing for him is that he is in the hands of a great medical team in Eindhoven, plus with Marco van Ginkel, Ryan Thomas and several others, he has several colleagues who know from their own experience what it’s like to need to recover from such a heavy injury.


Match information

Match:                                 PSV – FC Utrecht

Date:                                   13 December 2020

Time:                                   16:45 (6:45 PM) Dutch time

Location:                              Philips Stadion, Eindhoven

Referee:                               Serdar Gözübüyük

VAR:                                    Edgar Bijl

Broadcast:                            Fox Sports


Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News

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