Due to last weekend’s 2 point loss against Heerenveen, PSV is to travel to Rotterdam with a 5 instead of 7 point lead on Ajax. Sunday’s opponent is Feyenoord, the team that kicked PSV out of the National Cup tournament. Cocu’s squad needs to win to keep the pressure on the other side.
A lot has been said and written about the red card that Hirving Lozano got against Heerenveen. Not only was it the second time of the season, both fans and analytics thought it wasn’t a red card. The discussion got heated when Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar didn’t get a card at all for almost exactly the same foul he committed against PEC Zwolle, the day after.
After Lozano was sent off, PSV saw their 2-0 lead vanish to a 2-2 draw, while Huntelaar scored the only and winning goal against PEC. Therefor Ajax got 2 points closer and kept their striker free of charges, but PSV saw its lead shrink and most likely loses one of its best players for maybe 3 matches; no wonder fans are angry, and a shame the pressure got back to Eindhoven because of such an unfair situation.
PSV are still in the process of appealing the court decision of the 3 match suspension the KNVB laid on him, but only a few people believe it will bring ‘Chucky’ Lozano on the pitch, coming Sunday.
Van Ginkel and Romero back in training
The good news of the week is that Captain Marco van Ginkel and latest signing Maximiliano Romero got back in training. Both players are recovering from injuries that have kept them off from playing for several weeks now and still trained individually.
However, especially now, PSV need their captain if they want to be able to get a positive result against Feyenoord. Even though the reigning Dutch National champions are performing quite dramatically so far, they kicked PSV out of the Cup tournament less than a month ago and have nothing to lose in the Eredivisie competition anymore.
Romero’s comeback could be an interesting one. The Argentinian striker hasn’t made his debut yet, so nobody really knows his style of playing yet either. This could bring the necessary surprises in the last 9 games of the season. Because when PSV win 9 of them, they are the new champions. In theory, it’s that simple. Let’s hope the youngster can help put it to practice!
Dramatic season Feyenoord
As mentioned before, Feyenoord has a dramatic season so far. In 2016, they won their first Cup in 8 years, and last year became National champions for the first time in 18 years. But, when you have success, other teams, of course, are eager to buy your best players.
The Rotterdammers began their Champions League season without 6 of their strong holders: Dirk Kuyt quit his career, winger Eljero Elia moved to Istanbul Başakşehir, left back Terence Kongolo to AS Monaco and right back Rick Karsdorp to AS Roma. On top of that, central defenders Eric Botteghin and Jan-Arie van der Heijden got seriously injured. Feyenoord only scored 5 goals, conceded 14 and was eliminated with 3 points only.
But…didn’t they bring in new players? Sure, they did: with Kevin Diks (Fiorentina) Ridgeciano Haps (AZ) and Jerry St. Juste (SC Heerenveen), they brought in 3 defenders, with Sofyan Amrabat (FC Utrecht) a midfielder and with Jean-Paul Boëtius (FC Basel) and Sam Larsson (SC Heerenveen) 2 attackers. All of them are talented, but none have real experience on the top level. The result was a gap of 20 points with PSV at before the winter break in the Eredivisie.
Feyenoord stronger in 2018
But in 2018, things could get better again for the biggest club of Rotterdam. Robin van Persie finally came back home and already scored his first goal. Top scorer Nicolai Jørgensen saw his transfer to Newcastle United get cancelled, and is obviously very happy to finish the season playing together with the top scorer of the Dutch National team.
Next to that, central defender Sven van Beek is back after a very long injury, Ridgeciano Haps made his comeback, plus both Eric Botteghin and Jan-Arie van der Heijden are fit again.
Even though it’s much too late for Feyenoord to even think of prolonging the national title, they sure want to show that the win over PSV of last month wasn’t an incident. And don’t forget the prestige, especially against the only team that ever beat them (current captain, Karim El Ahmadi, was also part of that team) with double figures.
Coming Sunday will be the 161st time PSV and Feyenoord play against each other. Until now, PSV won 57 and lost 64 of these matches. 141 of them were played in the Eredivisie competition, of which PSV won 50 and lost 58. 17 of the matches were played for the KNVB Cup tournament, of which PSV won 7 and lost 6. The clubs met twice in an international context, both matches resulting in a draw. The total goal difference is in favour of PSV: 254 against 241.
The big challenge will be this: PSV won only 13 of the 77 matches they have played in De Kuip competition wise. They have scored 87 goals there, but conceded 137. It is known that the stadium in the South of Rotterdam is feared by many due to the fanatic supporters. This seems to have been an issue for the current PSV selection over the last few games there.
The biggest victory dates back to January 27th of 1980: PSV took the 3 points home after a 0-3 win. The last victory in the Kuip, Feyenoord’s home, dates from July 31st 2016, when PSV won the Johan Cruijff Cup with 0-1. The last time they took the 3 points home in the competition was on January 1st of the same year, when Feyenoord was beaten with 0-2.
In short, you could say the statistics don’t differ too much, but Feyenoord has a mental advantage for the upcoming match. PSV will surely have to show strength and courage against a team who don’t have anything to lose and therefor are free to let PSV make the game…which is exactly what PSV doesn’t want. And especially not now that they most likely miss Lozano and Feyenoord has Robin van Persie possibly available as offensive midfielder.
This will merit Jorrit Hendrix and Van Ginkel – if he’s fit to play at all – to be very focused on the defensive aspect. With Steven Berghuis the opponent has a very productive winger, it will be interesting to see how the right footed left back Joshua Brenet reacts against him.
If midfielder Tony Vilhena and captain El Ahmadi are fit, PSV can make sure their midfield and defence will be aggressively tested. The fight will most likely be crucial there. Steven Bergwijn seems to slowly pick up his role better and better since Locadia moved to England (watch his great debut here), but without Lozano, Cocu has to be creative and see whom he will replace him.
It’s not very likely he will switch the system, so he might give a chance to either Donyell Malen or Albert Guðmundsson in the basic eleven. Both have creativity and scoring ability, and Cocu seems to be done with Gastón Pereiro, who has been replaced with Mauro Júnior over the last few games.
Whatever the head coach decides, if PSV doesn’t bring the 3 points home, the heat is back on. If they lose, it will be for sure there are going to be angry supporters when they arrive back in Eindhoven.
Date: Sunday 25 February 2018
Location: Stadion Feijenoord (De Kuip), Rotterdam
Referee: Danny Makkelie
Broadcast: Fox Sports Eredivisie
Tickets: SOLD OUT.
For Eindhoven News: Joey van der Hart
Join the conversation online at the PSV Eindhoven International Facebook Page