PSV under pressure in preparation for PAOK

PSV - PAOK, 26 November at the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven. Photo credit: DAZN

PSV lost two more points in another match with two very different halfs. Roger Schmidt is preparing his team for the Europa League re-match against PAOK Saloniki, but it must feel like he´s in a pressure cooker with PSV already.

Sunday´s match against FC Twente looked a lot like the one against PAOK in Thessaloniki: an impressive first half with dominant football from PSV, who didn´t reward themselves for the chances they created. In the second half, they lost all grip to their opponent, who suddenly looked like a giant and grabbed the Eindhoven squad by throat. This time, PSV were lucky they didn´t lose all three points. It appears they blew up their engine with the vollgassfusball that is required by Roger Schmidt, or at least they spill all their gas by pressing too much in too short a time.

Players and analysts have named specific things in their reactions to the match, which may be seen as points of concern for Schmidt´s selection of players. Former head coach Aad de Mos says he has seen the same kind of thing go wrong several times, and that PSV structurally fails to kill the game before the second half starts. Club watcher Rik Elfrink published an article in which he wrote that Schmidt has to get to work with his strikers, in order to eliminate their ego-tripping. PSV winger Cody Gakpo also stated that the forwards need to work on ´finding each other better´.

Watch the full resume of FC Twente – PSV right here.

UEFA EL Group E. Photo Credit: UEFA

Pressure cooker
There are many reasons to point out to explain why PSV is trailing both in the national and European competition. Due to the smaller budget, the club had to wait until the very last day to attract some much-needed players. And before they were actually able to train with a full selection, several members got positive corona-tests, while a few were injured. The situation was worse when the squad flew to Greece, but there is no more time to point to any circumstance anymore and PSV really has to win all the matches for the remainder of 2020.

PSV are now ranked fourth in the Dutch Eredivisie, four points behind number one Ajax. They already dropped seven points in total, while the matches against the top teams have been planned for 2021, so the toughest part is yet to come. PSV have also dropped six of the nine points in the Europa League, which means they are now two points behind PAOK and even four points behind Granada FC. This third position on the ranking symbolically puts PSV in a pressure cooker, because if they want to be able to play European football after Christmas, they absolutely have to beat PAOK this Thursday.

PAOK can leave the initiative to PSV
PAOK Saloniki is doing just fine, especially since they play under their new head coach, Pablo Garcia. The 43-year-old Uruguayan has won all his four first matches and finds his new squad ranked third in the Greek Super League. He seems to have the DNA of a true winner because he became national champions with the Under 19 squad of PAOK in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – the last two seasons even undefeated. With the second position in Group E, he can leave the initiative to PSV, play on the counter and maybe take another point home from Eindhoven. If this happens, the tension at De Herdgang might come to a boiling point before Christmas.

It’s all going to be exciting either way, also if PSV keeps the three points in Eindhoven this time. It will bring them back to the second place, but then they will have just one point more, and an away match against group leader Granada CF waiting ahead. All hope in Eindhoven is set on the hope that Schmidt will have the leak above the water, his strikers sharp and his defence unbreakable.

Yannis watching out on Stratumseind in Eindhoven. Photo credit: Joey van der Hart

Interview with a PAOK fan
The preview I wrote on the away match (click here) triggered several people to react and speak out – partially against it. To learn if I maybe was wrong about the status of their favourite club, I decided to interview one of them, and the reception has been very positive so far. You can read the interview right here.

Pre-match press conference
For now, it seems that most of the issues concerning positive corona-tests are dealt with. As usual, the players will get tested before every other match, so any possible new infections will be made public later. In order to get the latest news about the match of Thursday, you can follow the pre-match press conference on YouTube on Wednesday at 12:00 (12PM) Dutch time.

Match information

Match: PSV – PAOK Saloniki
Time: 21:00 (9PM) Dutch time
Location: Philips Stadion, Eindhoven
Referee: Andris Treimanis
VAR: not available
Broadcast: RTL7 and Fox Sports 2

Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News
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