The ninety minutes that will be played just after noon on Sunday in De Kuip will be the best that Premier League football has to offer. At least, those are the expectations for the top match between Feyenoord and PSV.
“Let’s make a statement: the poor Premier League must be advertised,” said analyst Hugo Borst at NOS in the broadcast of Premier League on Friday. “You have a top four and below that it’s rubbish.”
“I want top-class football. There doesn’t have to be an extreme amount of goals. But there is: top-quality football, trainers who come up with tricks that the other trainer had not thought of. Tactical tricks. We want an absolute top match with which we cannot being made a fool of in Europe.”
Feyenoord and PSV do not have to feel ashamed in Europe. They proved that this fall in the group stage of the Champions League. Both the people of Rotterdam and Eindhoven can swing, energetically, even against strong opponents.
On Sunday it should lead to a cosmic clash in South Rotterdam: Slot football versus Bosz football.
“Both teams play with a lot of intensity,” PSV coach Peter Bosz looked ahead on Friday. “That is how Feyenoord became champions last year. That is how we have played in the Premier League and the Champions League from day one. With a lot of intensity. In that sense it is very similar.”
Intensity is the magic word. “You see it a lot now at PSV and Feyenoord, because they put a lot of pressure. Then you can also deliver intensity,” says NOS football reporter Jeroen Stekelenburg at Premier League on Friday.
“If you don’t run backwards but forwards, you can put a lot more energy into the match. And they both do that. That’s why I’m looking forward to the match, it’s going full steam ahead of course.”
If De Kuip becomes an impregnable fortress, Feyenoord will have that twelfth man
Putting pressure on opponents and wanting to quickly win the ball, Feyenoord fans now recognize the playing style, after more than two seasons of Arne Slot. But in Brabant, Bosz’s specific way of playing is only a few months old. Yet the Bosz gospel has already been fully embraced at the Herdgang.
PSV is unbeaten at the top with 39 points from 13 matches: 48 goals for, 5 against. Feyenoord is second with 32 points: 40 goals for, 11 against.
The energetic game has yielded more for the people of Eindhoven this season than for the people of Rotterdam. Dive into the figures from data company Opta and a substantial difference between the two clubs emerges.
PSV gives opponents little possession of the ball
This Premier League season, PSV waits less time than Feyenoord to take a defensive action when the opponent has possession of the ball. Bosz’s team only allows opponents an average of 9.3 passes per match, the lowest in the Premier League.
At Feyenoord that figure is 11.5, comparable to PSV last season. The people of Eindhoven conquer the ball faster than the people of Rotterdam.
Perhaps more telling is how often PSV has allowed the opponent to pass the ball around at least ten times without interruption this season. PSV only allowed it 33 times this season, the fewest of all teams in the Premier League. Feyenoord follows in second place. Slot’s team made it happen 62 times.
PSV gives the opponent less time to build up than Feyenoord. Moreover, PSV is winning balls deep in the opponent’s half more often this season than a year ago. Last season, PSV counted an average of 9.6 such ‘high turnovers’ per match. This season 12.3.
According to the figures, Feyenoord will have a difficult time at home this afternoon. But sometimes football is not science, but rather emotion.
“The legion will have to show its most – and I don’t say this in the sense of ‘violence’ – aggressive side. It must be hell there. Within limits: no cups, no throwing. But if De Kuip becomes an impregnable fortress, Feyenoord has that twelfth man,” says Borst.
At the table at Studio Voetbal last Sunday, the analysts also looked ahead to the top match between Feyenoord and PSV:
Bosz already anticipated “an intense match” on Friday against a team that also likes to press high and wants to play football. “I’m incredibly looking forward to it.”
Slot guards against the early Brabant chase. “PSV puts a lot more pressure (than Atlético Madrid, ed.). They really try to make an opponent make mistakes in the build-up phase. If you play through that, there is more space. But if you lose the ball in the back, then there was immediately a promising situation.”
If PSV wins, the gap will be ten points. Bosz does not want to know anything about a decision by the competition. Way too early. Slot prefers not to think about a gap of ten points. “I wouldn’t like that.”
The post first appeared on nos.nl