Painful night in Thessaloniki for PSV in the run-up to Willem II

Photo Credit: Tilbo

PSV fly home to Eindhoven after a painful night in Thessaloniki. Roger Schmidt has work to do to get his team ready for Willem II.

The night PSV experienced in Thessaloniki is of the kind Roger Schmidt will use to keep his team focused throughout the rest of the season. It doesn’t often happen that two halves in a single match differ as much as they did yesterday evening when PSV played against PAOK Saloniki.

Night and Day

The first 45 minutes can be described as being dominated by PSV. The Eindhoven squad had control, played at a high tempo, and let the ball do most of the work. It didn’t lead to many chances, but the first big one resulted in a penalty.

After Eran Zahavi turned it into gold, the team lost a bit of focus to the Greeks. They created some chances, but nothing really alarming. And definitely not to the level of what was to come after the break.

The easiest way to explain the rapid change is to point at a tactical move from Pablo García. The Uruguayan head coach was appointed only last week. He must have seen where to strike the enemy hardest.

Goal after goal

Two minutes into the second half, the equaliser was a fact; 11 minutes later, the match was in PAOK’s pocket. PSV’s defence is by no means the team’s strong point. But the way the goals were conceded, one after another, is worrisome at best.

Andrija Živković gave an assist for the 1-1 and scored the 2-1 by himself. Then Christos Tzolis showed he only needs 13 minutes to prove to his coach that he likes to return a favour with the 3-1. PSV were belly up and never got back into the game.

Tzolis then assisted Živković for the 4-1. It was only an offside that kept him from scoring the 5-1. PAOK took over the second place in Group E and can look forward to defending it in Eindhoven on the 26th.

Photo Credit: Wallpaper Flare

Next opponent: Willem II (home)

Willem II are PSV’s next opponent in the Dutch Eredivisie. Their home base is the Koning Willem II Stadion in Tilburg, 35km west of Eindhoven. The 2019/20 season was good to them, resulting in a fifth-place on the ranking.

But this season has been difficult so far. They lost four of their first seven matches and only kept three points at home once, against Heracles Almelo. The result is a disappointing 12th ranking and a goal average of minus six. They also forgot to reward themselves for their past efforts. They lost 0-4 to Glasgow Rangers, failing to qualify for the Europa League.


PSV and Willem II have played 134 Eredivisie matches against each other. PSV won 82 and lost 29 times, scored 330 goals and conceded 180. PSV has won 73,1% of all home matches in this competition since 1921.

Willem II’s last victory at the Philips Stadium dates back to 3 September 1983, when the Tilburgers took the three points home after a 1-2 win. PSV’s biggest victory took place 4,5 years later when they sent Willem II home after a 7-0 defeat. The scoring average of the last five home matches was four goals per match, with only just over one conceded in total.

Familiar faces

There are some familiar PSV faces at Willem II this season. Goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter, 33,  had a contract in Eindhoven last season. He defended both the main squad and well as the U/21 goal, once. This summer, he moved to Tilburg, to make more minutes. This went as planned until he got injured in his sixth match for the Tricolores.

Head coach, Adrie Koster, played four seasons in Eindhoven, until 1983. Right after that, he started his career as a trainer of the PSV youth, until 1985. He also worked at Ajax for two years, then two years at Club Brugge, and has become an experienced man. He started in Tilburg in 2018, where he works with several people with a history at Feyenoord and Ajax.

Mathijsen slips. Photo Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Feyenoord and Ajax DNA

Joris Mathijsen started at Willem II in June 2016. This brought him back at the club where he played in his youth and broke through in 1999. His career then led him from AZ to HSV and Málaga, and he played the World Cup Final with the Dutch national team in 2010.

He finished his active career with three seasons for Feyenoord in Rotterdam. It seems Mathijsen is the mastermind behind the club’s growth. He’s been one of the reasons Martin van Geel returned to Tilburg as well.

Van Geel has been Willem II’s general manager since July 2019. He’s a former player and technical manager of both Feyenoord and Ajax. Defender, Miguel Nelom, is an exponent of the Feyenoord Academy and played in Rotterdam for seven seasons. Fellow player, Jan-Arie van der Heijden, is an exponent of the Ajax Academy and had a contract with Feyenoord for five seasons. Lastly, defender Leeroy Owusu and attacker Ché Nunnely both come from the Ajax Academy too.

Bundesliga DNA

The selection also contains some players with experience in the German Bundesliga  Derrick Kòhn (Bayer Munich II), Görkem Sağlam (VfL Bochum), Vangelis Pavlidis (VfL Bochum and Borussia Dortmund II), Mats Köhlert (HSV), John Yeboah (VfL Wolfsburg), and Kwasi Wriedt. Wriedt is only 26 but has already played for St. Pauli II, LSK Hansa, VfL Osnabrück, and Bayer Munich II. The Swede, Sebastian Holmén, played for Dinamo Moscow between 2015 and 2019. One might conclude that Willem II has enough quality to become a serious contender again.

Strengths and weaknesses

Mike Trésor has been the most productive midfielder so far, with one goal and three assists. Pavlidis is the striker to look out for, he scored three goals and gave one assist. But with only seven goals scored and 13 conceded, it’s clear that Willem II has work to do.

It will be interesting to see if Koster has the skill to translate specific situations from PSV in the matches against Vitesse and PAOK Saloniki to the Philips Stadium. PSV supporters are probably hoping for the same scenario as they saw against ADO Den Haag.

Match information

Match:        PSV – Willem II
Time:          20:00 (8 PM)
Location:    Philips Stadion, Eindhoven
Referee:     Allard Lindhout
VAR:           Laurens Gerrets

Article by Joey van der Hart for Eindhoven News

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