What: Dutch Eredivisie
Who: PSV Eindhoven vs Ajax
When: Sunday 14th April, 2013, at 15:30 UK Time
Where: Phillips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Time Running Out For PSV
Mathematically, this cannot be said to be a “must win” game for Dick Advocaat’s PSV. However, having given up their lead to Ajax and now lying three points behind with five games to go, it would be a major psychological blow with time running out fast for PSV, if they fail to win this weekend.
It would also open the door to Vitesse Arnhem, who have been up there all season and are currently level on points with PSV, or Feyenoord, a further point behind in what is Europe’s most competitive title race at present. But PSV know that if they can beat Ajax, they will go back to the top of the table on goal difference. Having led the table for so long, scoring goals for fun, there would be a sense of having ‘thrown it away’ if PSV do end up coming second, third or fourth best this season.
But PSV must beat Ajax for the first time in almost four years if they are to leapfrog them. Injuries and suspensions have played havoc with their preparations in recent weeks as PSV have struggled, with points needlessly lost at Roda JC and Heerenveen. Defensive frailties have been another issue that Advocaat has had to deal with, but the club look far from solid still and with time running out they will be reliant on their prolific attack to lift them to glory.
Ajax Close In On Hat-trick of Titles
Frank de Boer’s side come into this game full of confidence after a superb run of form that has put them in pole position for a third successive title, having previously trailed PSV Eindhoven in the title race. What has changed since January is that Ajax have turned draws into wins and are currently on a five-match unbeaten run that has taken them above their opponents to lead the Eredivisie.
Ajax have a superb record of late when it comes to seeing themselves over the line in the title race. Not only have they come from behind to win the Dutch title in the last two seasons, but they have not lost a match between 21st March and the end of the season since 2009. However, on that occasion it was PSV who defeated the Amsterdam giants.
Part of the reason for Ajax’s impressive late season surges is because they lose key names during each summer to big European powers and have to rebuild. Once the end of the season comes into sight, their team have found a cohesion that enables them to power towards the title. This year, Christian Eriksen may well finally leave the club, but there are a host of other talented stars ready to step up if he goes, including captain Siem de Jong, Victor Fischer and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, all of whom have been among the goals lately.
PSV Eindhoven 2-0 RKC Waalwijk (16/04; Eredivisie)
Roda JC 2-2 PSV Eindhoven (31/04; Eredivisie)
Willem II 1-3 PSV Eindhoven (06/04; Eredivisie)
AZ Alkmaar 2-3 Ajax [17/04; Eredivisie)
Ajax 4-1 NEC Nijmeden (31/04; Eredivisie)
Ajax 4-1 Heracles (27/04; Eredivisie)
PSV Eindhoven: Luciano Narsingh; Wilfred Bouma
Ajax: Dav Klaassie; Kenneth Vermeer; Isaac Cuenca
Players to watch
PSV Eindhoven – Ola Toivonen. With four in his last four Toivonen has been spearheading PSV’s title challenge and keeping them in touch at the top. His appearances have been limited this season by a serious injury which he is still feeling the effects of, but he has still managed to net seven times in 12 appearances. PSV have been glad to have him back and he can continue his good form here.
Ajax – Siem de Jong: Ajax have been in wonderful form recently and it has been a truly collective effort too, with Sigthorsson, Fischer, Eriksen and Ryan Babel all tormenting opposition defences. But captain De Jong remains a key man going forward and he has netted three in his last four in the league. The cunning attacker, who can play both in midfield and attack, has had more shots on goal than any of his team-mates this season and he will be the key danger for PSV.
PSV may have stumbled recently in the Eredivisie but they have won 17 of their last 19 league games at the Philips Stadion. However, Ajax are looking for their first double over PSV in 18 years after beating them 3-1 in Amsterdam earlier this season.
It is easy to imagine Ajax making plenty of chances given the creativity of Eriksen and their typical attacking style, combined with PSV’s propensity to leave vulnerable gaps in the defence for opponents to exploit. Yet there is also a danger in there – Ajax have been profligate at times this season and if they fail to take their chances PSV are the type of team who will make them pay.
However, with 14 goals in their last four league games and up against a PSV side boasting an array of players who can find the net regularly, this is a game which promises goals. Both teams have goals coming from multiple sources. PSV are better at creating chances and have scored more this season, but Ajax tend to find the net when it matters most of all and have been particularly prolific of late, whilst Advocaat’s side have a habit of conceding at the worst possible moment. Expect a score draw that suits the visitors far more than the hosts. PSV Eindhoven 2-2 Ajax.
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