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.
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.