Tag: Balotelli

Brave PSV reaps kudos but not the result

PSV has won five competitive games in a row and has garnered quite some excitement. And what’s not to like: fan fave Cocu at the helm and exciting young talents like Willems, Wijnaldum, Depay, Maher, Rekik and Bruma in the squad, to name a few.

The football PSV has demonstrated in the first weeks of this season has been pretty good. Fast paced, intelligent, domineering, attacking.

The style of football we haven’t seen PSV play in a long time (have to go back to Nilis / Nistelrooy days) and with Ajax the club to beat and Feyenoord in a dip, it’s a great prospect to have PSV-Milan on the roster.

A prestigious game between two big names in Europe. Both clubs won the Europa Cup before and only 8 years ago they faced each other in the CL semi finals.

The prize of this tie is a ticket into the CL and therefore access to lots of euros. Euros both PSV and Milan can use.

And what an experience it would be for Cocu’s babies, if they could make it. And wouldn’t LVG be happy with this lot playing at least 6 massive games this season.

But…. playing nicely and being attractive for the fans is one thing. Winning a football game is another. It sometimes feels that good football and winning don’t go hand in hand. PSV started their game great. As one expected. Cocu willl have instructed his lads in Barca fashion: have fun, be ballsy, take the game to them. There is nothing to lose, really. The onus is on Milan.


And in the first minutes, PSV did exactly that. Matavz, Depay, Wijnaldum, Maher, they all had a go, with Maher impressing in particular with a half volley blocked, another distance strike stopped and a rocket on the cross bar after a little dribble.

But by then, Milan had already pounced successfully. A Depay mistake tracking back, three defenders ball watching and El Shaarawy was able to head the ball in, unmarked.

By half time, I think PSV deserved to be equal with Milan.

There is a lot of good things to say about PSV, but at the same time, PSV is definitely not there yet. At times Willems looked like watching the ball. He should be charged a ticket price for that. The back four are talented but not yet the killers they need to be. Schaars impressed yet again in midfield and will add international caps to his tally without a doubt. Schaars is disciplined, has vision, and passes balls with tremendous pace into the feet of his forwards.

Depay and Wijnaldum need to improve in their decision making. Both players are very skilled with their feet, but not good enough with their head. Maher seems to have it all but drifts in and out of the game too much. Needs to be more demanding and show more leadership. Maher needs to learn a bit from Sneijder in that respect. He might be a bit too friendly.

In the second half, funnily enough, the lacklustre Milan of the first half changed into a more dynamic team. And when they did, it was PSV who scored. A distance strike with swerve from Bruma was too hot to handle and Matavz was on hand to head in the equaliser. Deservedly so.

PSV does get some more opportunities, like Milan in honesty. El Shaarawy with a missed chance and Jozefzoon – coming on for Park – and Rekik missing good chances.

All in all, a great open game. Lots of box to box action. Lots of mistakes and lots of testosterone.

One player to single out for me is Brenet. Not super in defence, but a good mentality, working hard, not starstruck at all but a wonderful prospect indeed.

In the last 5 minutes, we saw some chances for Jozefzoon for PSV and Polley for Milan. Jozefzoon didn’t get a shot off as he mishandled the ball, while the Milan sub did get a shooting opp. That, I suppose, is the difference between PSV and Milan.

And despite the result and the fact that PSV has been caught napping a number of times (corner kicks Phillip!!!), the fans in Eindhoven have something to look out for this season. And they better hurry too, as I can’t see players like Rekik, Maher, Depay and Willems play in Eindhoven very long.

wijnaldum AC

Mark van Bommel assisted Dutch TV in analysing the game. The former PSV and Milan man was highly critical on his ex-mates and felt the youngsters were a little bit too playful. Where Urby Emanuelson was highly positive about PSV and predicted a huge future for the team and players, Van Bommel was cranky. “AC Milan was better. Much more goal focused. PSV played good but they made too many sloppy mistakes in the final third. It was too playful for me. Too much gallery play and little flicks and backheels. Against Milan for a CL ticket, you need to be totally professional and focused on the result.” The TV anchor was taken aback by Bommel’s criticism. The retired midfielder added: “Listen, of course PSV is young and inexperienced but this level of play doesn’t need frivolity. It requires more than that.” His former coach and father in law, Bert van Marwijk was in the tv studio and a little bit defensive: “I think Mark is disappointed with the result. Someone who is used to play at top level would say things like he says, but all in all, PSV can be proud, I think.”

Memphis Depay had a shitty feeling as he was at fault with Milan’s first goal. “I took too much time. I remember considering to just hit the ball away or go back to the goalie, but he was in my back and gave me a push and was away. When I looked up, it was 0-1. I was pretty pissed off and happy we at least got a goal back.”

Coach Cocu was positive about his lads. “Our first 25 minutes were very good. We created pressure and opportunities. You do hope to score at least once then. And it’s known that a club like Milan, with top players, only need one little mistake to pounce. They have that quality. They don’t need to play well. But we recovered well. We played a good second half and got our goal back. We have another game to play next week. We are not without chances.”

Stijn Schaars ended the game with mixed feelings. “We played really well, at times. And to do so against a European top team is quite something. And funny, the first time we didn’t look good, they score. That is what they can do. But, we only conceded one and we scored one. They won’t play for the 0-0 next week and we will get chances with our players. I think our belief in getting into the CL has only increased. We’ll make it into a match.”

Here is the highlights of the 2005 CL semi finals. The home game.

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New and Refreshed Oranje makes LVG proud

Louis van Gaal was always headstrong. And with that mentality he is working on his plan. A new Dutch team, going for gold next year at the World Cup. The coach had already told everyone who listened: Holland’s youth has the future.

Against the losing finalist of the last EC, Van Gaal picked the youngest team since 99 years. The average age being only 22 years and 361 days. Seven of the players starting against Italy are still eligible to go to the EC Israel this summer with Young Oranje.

And Oranje played fresh and gutsy football against Italy and scored the first goal via Lens. The lads forgot to score more goals and conceded a late goal, ending it in 1-1.

LVG was slightly disappointed in that equaliser but still walked through the Arena with his chest out. Eight players in his starting eleven are Eredivisie players and his team was better than a team full of Serie A stars. This gave him hope for the months to come.

The next qualification games are against Estonia and Romania and winning those two games will make all the difference in the quest to World Cup gold. “Again, I will pick the best players of the moment. Big names, small names… all the same to me.”

Bert van Marwijk held on to familiar faces and created consistency and stability. Van Gaal rewards players who develop well and play regularly. Less stringent. Only in the last months before the World Cup will he work on a fixed line up.

In the coming weeks, LVG will visit Sneijder, Stekelenburg and other experienced names. When players like Van der Vaart and Heitinga perform well, Van Gaal is happy to select them again. But they will do their utmost to get to that point. Reputations do not count.

Van Gaal: “We played well as a team. We played attractive and offensive and created chances. Sadly, we could convert them all and conceding late was a bummer. We simply didn’t respond well to them changing their system.”

Van Persie played like a captain (even if Strootman was wearing the band) and resembled a traffic agent, sometime around the 22nd minute of the first half. He’s waiting with the ball under his foot. Right back Janmaat comes storming on the flank and Van Persie shows him the way to run. In doing so, Janmaat takes along one of Van Persie’s opponents. He creates space for himself and instead of passing to the Feyenoord back, RVP takes on the other opponent. And passes the ball to playmaker Maher in the center of the pitch.

Kit sponsor Nike lauched the new away kit for Oranje with the slogan “the New Masters” but it’s Van Persie who bridges old and new against Italy.

If the inexperienced pups of Van Gaal are the new masters, then RVP is the Grand Master in this Dutch team. Not because he acts the dominant leader ( he doesn’t) but because of the total control in his game.

The combinations with Maher are clearly visible, as a fine combination of old and new. The AZ midfielder has instinctive feeling for space and time. Wherever the Man United star drifts off, the young playmaker arrives and vice versa. This results in a goal twice, almost. Van Persie seems to have a similar click with Maher as he has with Ibi Afellay.

Maher is constantly available and he has the legs to bridge between attack and defense in the turnaround. This is where he has added value over more static players like Sneijder and Van der Vaart. The playmaker spot is now broken open. For years, Sneijder and Van der Vaart monopolised it. That time is over.

This gives us a sunny perspective on our way to Brazil. How 19 year old Maher remained on his feet between Italian stars like De Rossi and Pirlo.

A week ago, his coveted transfer to PSV didn’t happen. But in nothing could we see any disappointment. In the second half, Maher is part of every attack of Oranje. The only disappointment for him, is that he wasn’t able to score a goal.

Stefan de Vrij is another name that played a remarkable game. The 21 year old concluded after the game that there are many different strikers in football. Last weekend he played against Willem II’s Joachim. This midweek, he played Balotelli. Super striker and mad genius. “On this level, strikers are so much better. Stronger, faster and they move differently.”

He came on as a sub twice and now finally had his starting berth. He played against renowned names as Balotelli, Gilardino and El Shaarawy but never really got in trouble until the late equaliser. “I think we didn’t do too shabby with this inexperienced line up, we can be satisfied.”

Coach Louis van Gaal was clear in his instructions to De Vrij and Martins Indi. “He told us to defend as we normally do, but he also instructed us to be adventurous in possession. Push forward, keep the pitch tight. We needed to play with space behind us, which is pretty daunting. Balotelli is strong and fast and Pirlo knows how to play a ball in….”

De Vrij was not surprised that they did so well. “No, not really. We know what we can do. We are confident players. This game was a test for us, sure, but we knew we could show the coach and the fans what we are capable of. When Italy switched to 4-2-4 we got in trouble a bit. They pushed up while our front four wanted to score the second goal. It was pretty obvious that one of us would score. Either we’d win it 2-0 or they’d come back to 1-1. But the overall feeling is a bit down with that equaliser. It’s always shit to concede in the last minute.”

The two center backs seem to be the central duo for Oranje’s future. Something Ronald Koeman doesn’t seem to see, as he still pushed Martins Indi to the left back spot and uses Mathijsen centrally, next to De Vrij. “Van Gaal has different options as left back, so he can do other things. I know Bruno since my 13th… We play together for a while. We know who to play together and compensate each other’s weaknesses. But I can play well with Joris Mathijsen too. Ronald Koeman has options and either way, I’m cool with it.”

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