The status of PSV’s squad in the run up to the match against Ajax

Ajax and PSV club logo's. Credit: Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven

PSV’s new year starts with a top match in Amsterdam, this Sunday. In this article, you can read all about the Eindhoven squad’s status and what you can expect of them in the second season half, starting with the match against Ajax.

The winter transfer window closes on Monday, 1 February. In the most recent interviews, PSV’s head coach and management said there’s no need for them to attract new players. The summer transfer window went well, with the team getting the results for which they wished.

One or two players who aren’t part of the usual starting eleven might transfer. But that’s about it. Below follows a description of all selected players. It includes their performance in the first half of the season and what we might expect from them in 2021. The order’s based on their positions and shirt number.

Goalkeepers

13. Lars Unnerstall (GER): Took over this spot in the basic 11 from Jeroen Zoet. But he lost it when Roger Schmidt decided to attract a goalkeeper who was better with his feet. He’ll get his time on the pitch in the KNVB Cup tournament matches but will surely have to fight to be ready when Schmidt needs him in the Eredivisie or Europa League.

16. Vincent Müller (SUI): Was attracted from the Würzburg Kickers from the 3rd German Bundesliga this summer. He got injured and has now played five matches with PSV Under 21, where he’ll have to compete with Maxime Delanghe for a place in the starting eleven.

21. Maxime Delanghe (BEL): played most matches for PSV U/21 until he got infected with the coronavirus in October. Will retake this spot from Müller from 2021’s first match.

Coen Dillen statue and official Philips Stadium entrance. Photo credit: Joey van der Hart

38. Yvon Mvogo (GER): had a rough start at PSV with a couple of memorable blunders, but has proven to be reliable since then. Schmidt wanted him because of his good footwork, but his reflexes are undeniably impressive too. If he manages to prove his worth in January, he’ll probably push the 30-year-old Unnerstall out by the end of the season.

Defenders

4. Nick Viergever (NED): has been a reliable central defender in recent seasons, but lost his place in the starting eleven to Olivier Boscagli. It appears he’ll now have to make his minutes in the KNVB Cup tournament. His lack of speed might why he maybe doesn’t fit Schmidt’s style of play as well as his competitor. He has a great character, experience, professionalism, and mindset. Boscagli will bring a lot more money in for to PSV in a couple of years. At 31, Viergever might want to use this second half of the season as his last in the Eredivisie before going abroad. But not without winning with PSV.

5. Timo Baumgartl (GER): lost his place in the starting 11 during the pre-season to Jordan Teze. He let a transfer to Fulham pass him by because it didn’t feel right and wanted to takes his chances in Eindhoven. He didn’t seem at ease as a substitute until the last couple of matches, but also maybe isn’t the type of player Schmidt wants for his system. He seems comfortable in Eindhoven but hasn’t shown he’s worth the €10 million paid for him yet. Teze extended his contract recently, so this second half of the season will be decisive for both their PSV futures.

22. Denzel Dumfries (NED): has once again proven to be the powerhouse we all know him to be. This season maybe even more so, because of how fast he came back after a COVID-19 infection. He appears a bit more relaxed and seems to really enjoy his role as the team’s captain. He’s become ‘smarter’ in the penalty box and even started claiming penalties. He’s vital for the group’s s energy and will bring a big earner for PSV if he becomes a better defender and gives even more assists.

24. Armando Obispo (NED): got injured shortly after he came back from a loan period at Vitesse Arnhem. Has starting training with the group again recently and might become of worth towards the end of the season, when he’ll turn 22. The question is how Schmidt will use this Academy graduate because the team already has Boscagli and Viergever as left central defenders.

28. Olivier Boscagli (FRA): has surprised almost everyone with his strong first season half as a left central defender. He works well with Teze and seems to have a lot of tactical value. He brings a lot of energy towards opponents’ goal. His forward passing interceptions often look intelligent. The only things he’s probably missing is length and body. It’s great to see he’s started scoring even without that.

31. Philipp Max (GER): bought for €8 million and has proven to be the left-back PSV’s been looking for. He has great stamina, does his defensive work. He’s massively essential with his assists, corner kicks, free kicks, and penalties too. Joachim Löw even picked him and made his debut for Die Mannschaft. PSV’s management probably hoped for a different scenario with Angeliño at the time, who did so well he left after one season.

33. Jordan Teze (NED): took everyone by surprise when he showed to be a reliable right central defender. He’s officially a right back from the PSV Academy and currently the best stand-in for Dumfries. TM de Jong is probably looking out for an extra rental option on the wing during this transfer window. Meanwhile, Teze’s extended his contract at PSV until 2024. He can, therefore, keep developing in his current position, where he’s shown he’s faster and more aggressive than Baumgartl so far.

Midfielders

6. Ibrahim Sangaré (CIV): adapted to his new club and place of residence seemingly easy, because he’s already been of massive worth for the team. He’s a physical nightmare for all his opponents and is often involved in the first stage of attacks with his forward passing. He should work on his passing accuracy, shooting on target. He must also work on deciding when to choose his defensive position to keep counter-attacks from becoming dangerous.

8. Jorrit Hendrix (NED): has again been the player who needed to prove his worth under a new head coach, and again managed to do so. He’s probably Schmidt’s favourite 12th man since he’s delivered in every position Schmidt’s given him. His contract ends this summer, after which he’ll surely try his luck elsewhere. With Mauro Júnior, Ryan Thomas, and Marco van Ginkel all coming back, he may have less playing time again. He’ll leave PSV through the front door no matter what.

10. Mohamed Ihattaren (NED): hopefully left his worst period at the club behind him for good, because it’s a joy to see him perform at his best. He can develop in different positions in a different playing style under Roger Schmidt, who’s probably the best coach for him at this point in his career. His tasks for the second season half will be to stay fit, keep doing his defensive work, and learn to know when to use his creativity and when to keep it simple.

11. Adrian Fein (GER): has been a substitute so far and expressed his delight at being in Eindhoven in recent interviews. PSV is probably also the best club for him at this time, especially with so many great midfielders ahead of him. He can keep developing at a significant level without too much pressure. He looks like a creative, intelligent player with a great pass. He must learn which position to maintain, especially when it comes to defence.

Willy van der Kuylen statue and official Philips stadium entrance. Photo credit: Joey van der Hart

14. Marco van Ginkel (NED): joined Eindhoven for the fourth time in his career, once again recovering from a knee injury. He’s just rejoined group training and will possibly make his comeback halfway through the second half of the season. Meanwhile, his attitude, experience, and work ethic are of worth in the dressing room.

15. Érik Gutiérrez (MEX): decided to have an operation at the start of the season because his ankle’s pain became too great. He’s recently rejoined the group training sessions and still wants to show he’s entitled to a place in the starting 11. The question is: instead of who? With Hendrix and Fein ahead of him, things will become crowded for the left-footed midfielders. Pablo Rosario is right-footed but has remained Schmidt’s first choice, while Ryan Thomas also made his minutes in that position until he got injured.

17. Mauro Júnior (BRA): left a very good impression at Schmidt, who used this left-footer as an offensive and defensive midfielder and left-back. He’s a great mentality and the will to fight for his spot on the team. Just like Hendrix and Thomas, his multifunctionality is as much a pro as a con. The main difference is that Júnior still has everything to prove. For all three players, plus Guti and Fein, it’s a great plus that PSV is still active in three competitions.

18. Pablo Rosario (NED): earned his place in the starting 11 under Schmidt, partially also because his competitors got injured. He’s the type of player that always performs his tasks, but always gets the blame when he gives a wrong pass. His hard work for the team often goes unnoticed by many fans, but you never hear him complain about his critics. His forward passing has improved. Defensively he showed his worth when he stayed in the dressing room, and PSV conceded four goals in the second half against PAOK at Toumba Stadium.

27. Mario Götze (GER): should now be well warmed up, because the first season half was more of pre-season preparation for him. That was after a period without playing matches for Borussia Dortmund. He’s shown how important he can be, with his roaming of the field and giving subtle assists anywhere on the pitch. If he stays fit, we’ll see more of his best in the second season half, hopefully including more goals on top of assists. There’s no doubt about his worth in the dressing room.

30. Ryan Thomas (NZL): has been terribly unlucky at PSV so far. He got severely injured in his second week in Eindhoven but fought his way back. He then got slightly injured at the beginning of the season and fought his way back again. Only to get hurt once again, on 7 November. He’s 26 now, has a contract until the summer of 2022 and surely wants to show he didn’t sign at PSV for no reason. His biggest goal in the second season half should be to stay fit and just play regularly.

37. Richie Ledezma (USA): took some major steps and became official part of the first squad, until he got the ligaments in his knee torn. But what he showed in his first matches with PSV, and also during his debut with Team USA, was very promising. The only positive side from this injury is that he can do his rehab at home, so he’ll be able to see his friends and family in the US more until he comes back to Eindhoven in March. And then he’ll come back stronger, ofcourse.

Strikers

7. Eran Zahavi (ISR): came to PSV with high expectations, but hasn’t delivered yet. He’s suffered more from this coronavirus than others, but also simply hasn’t found his way in the team and style of play yet. If he stays fit, he’ll be the number one motivated guy to leave his mark on this season and score goals in all three competitions. This second season half will show us who the real Zahavi is, for sure.

9. Donyell Malen (NED): is back after a major knee injury. Just like Götze, he’s used the first season half as a sort of pre-season preparation, and has already scored 15 goals in all three competitions. He’s probably the happiest person on earth that Euro 2020 got postponed. Schmidt regularly took him off the pitch and probably knows this keeps Malen fit and hungrier than anyone to score more and more goals. He can’t be stopped if he stays fit now and might leave the club after summer.

19. Cody Gakpo (NED): has been a joy to watch so far. He’s improved his passing, positioning, endurance, and effective scoring a lot. He’s had nine goals and three assists in 18 matches and we’re not even halfway through the season. He recently extended his contract until June 2025, which proves he wants to stay in Eindhoven for another couple of years and repay the club and city. If he keeps going this way, Frank de Boer has no option than to select him for the Dutch national team at the European Championships this summer.

20. Maxi Romero (ARG): has only been unlucky in Eindhoven so far. He was finally making his comeback from another knee injury when disaster struck again. It’s incredible that he hasn’t thrown in the towel, and keeps coming back. In that sense, we can expect a mentally super strong player íf he makes it back to the first team and remains fit, which isn’t going to happen this season anymore.

23. Noni Madueke (ENG): has shown a lot of potential since the pre-season and has already shown his worth with six goals and seven assists in 20 matches. He’s fast, technically gifted, has a lot of drive, positive energy, and is always heading towards the goal. He can play as a winger and as one of the two strikers. He’s a joy to watch on the pitch and in front of the camera too. He’s only 18, has a contract until June 2024, and a bright future ahead of him. He’ll bring a lot of money in for PSV once he makes the step to a big overseas club.

29. Joël Piroe (NED): played 171 minutes in the first season half, but managed to score three goals. At 21, he’s a bit late of a late bloomer but has apparently gained some trust under Schmidt. Vertessen is his new competitor, even though they’re different players. He’ll probably be used the same way in the second season half. It might be his last to prove his worth for PSV as his contract ends in June of 2022.

53. Yorbe Vertessen (BEL): seemingly came out of nowhere and has already been moved to the first-team squad, after just one match. He suffered from injures in the last two seasons but is now apparently back and fighting-fit to be Donyell Malen’s stand-in for the rest of the season. He’s fast, aggressive and always heading towards the goal, and has everything to prove in 2021.

Next opponent: Ajax Amsterdam

The first match of 2021 is one of the biggest for PSV. Ajax is leading by one point, and are thus the perfect target. It’s also the first Eredivisie top match of the season, and both teams want to know where they stand.

Ajax started the season very strong and beat many opponents with lots of goals. The 0-13 against VVV in Venlo was a new national record and made the Eredivisie competition look like a joke. However, as soon as some of Ajax’s players got injured and infected with COVID-19, they started losing points.

Club logo. Credit: Ajax

After they lost their first home match against FC Twente came the elimination from the Champions League. So far they’ve always recovered the following match after a defeat, this time also against PEC Zwolle at home. But December was generally a dismal month for them.

The club from Amsterdam has conceded the unusual 11 goals in seven matches in three competitions and has allowed PSV to return to only a one-point disadvantage in the Eredivisie. Everyone in the Netherlands now wants to know which of these two Dutch top teams is still stronger.

Facts and Figures

PSV has played against Ajax 161 times. They’ve won 61 and lost 71 matches, with 29 matches resulting in draws. PSV has scored 257 and conceded 281 goals. Most of Ajax’ victories against PSV date back to before 1974, when they lost only nine of all 43 matches and drew five times. After that, PSV became a more serious club, especially in the mid-80s.

Since then, the Eindhoven side has lost only six of their home matches, while taking the three points home from Amsterdam 14 times. Since Ajax began using the ArenA as their home stadium, it’s taken them six years to beat PSV on their home turf. In the last five home matches Ajax won three and lost one match.

The last time PSV beat Ajax was on 23 September 2018, so Eindhoven is longing for a fresh victory. This sweet victory won’t quickly even get close the time PSV beat their arch rivals and celebrated the 24th championship at the Philips Stadium, five months earlier.

Familiar faces

PSV has signed several great players from Ajax, especially since the late 80s. Frank Arnesen, Ruud Geels, Wim Kieft, Ronald Koeman, Sören Lerby, and Gerald Vanenburg were among the first players to join PSV after succesful stints in Amsterdam. Steven Bergwijn, Siem de Jong, Wim Jonk, Patrick Kluivert, Kenneth Perez, Michael Reiziger, and Jan Wouters are some other good examples.

Ismail Aissati, Riechedly Bazoer, Peter Hoekstra, Zakaria Labyad, and André Ooijer made the move the other way around. Especially Bazoer and Labyad will never be forgiven for this – Eindhoven fans have little respect for the Amsterdam squad and how these two players left PSV.

Of the current PSV squad, Donyell Malen, Pablo Rosario, and Nick Viergever have a history in Amsterdam. Malen left the Academy after seven years and signed a contract with Arsenal in 2015, two years before he came to Eindhoven. Rosario was sent away from the Ajax Academy in 2014 and attracted to PSV by Marcel Brands in 2016. Viergever played for Ajax between 2014 and 2018.

Philips Stadium. Photo Credit: Joey van der Hart

Of Ajax’ current squad, Zakaria Labyad is from the PSV Academy, where striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar was also under contract. Head coach Erik ten Hag was Fred Rutten’s assistant coach between 2009 and 2012, while assistant Michael Reiziger played 25 matches for PSV between 2005 and 2007. Roger Schmidt’s assistant André Ooijer played 22 matches for Ajax between 2010 and 2012.

Current situation

Nobody in Eindhoven is counting on any major transfers. However, in Amsterdam, they just broke the record for the most expensive transfer in Ajax history. The 26-year-old Sébastien Haller will leave West Ham United for €20 million, where he scored only three goals in 16 Premier League matches this season.

The club desperately needed a new striker since Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Lassina Traore, and Brian Brobbey are all injured. The coming months will be decisive in the prize race too. In his best days, Haller scored a goal every two matches for FC Utrecht and Eintracht Frankfurt, where he was also important with assists.

Strengths and weaknesses

Maybe the best way to understand Ajax’s strengths and weaknesses is by watching this KNVB Cup match highlights. It’ll be interesting to see if PSV can outsmart FC Utrecht and keep Ajax from coming back the way they did on 16 December.

PSV Situation

PSV’s squad is probably fitter than it’s been during the entire first season half. It was nearly impossible to bring up a solid starting 11 in early November. Now Roger Schmidt has between 25 and 30 players from which to choose. That’s why we can expect the strongest team at the kick-off at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The German head coach will most likely make some tactical adjustments to keep Ajax away from PSV’s goal. Ten Hag will probably do the same, while both teams surely also want to score as many goals as possible in the first half. The battle will be about defensive discipline this time for sure.

For the latest updates, watch Friday’s pre-match conference here.

Match information

Match:                                  Ajax – PSV

Date:                                    Sunday 10 January 2021

Time:                                    16:45 (4:45 PM)

Location:                               Johan Cruyff ArenA, Amsterdam

Referee:                                Björn Kuipers

VAR:                                     Pol van Boekel

Broadcast:                             ESPN, Ziggo

 

Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News

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