An exciting, intense, sometimes tough match – PSV and Feyenoord keep each other in balance

Fireworks are set off from the field, flames can be seen at the rise. PSV is turning it into a kind of championship match at the beginning of March, in the home game against Feyenoord this Sunday. They lived in unprecedented luxury towards the top match. Ten points ahead of pursuer Feyenoord in matchday 24. With a win, PSV coach Peter Bosz would light up a “big cigar” on Sunday evening, he said beforehand.

That cigar will have to wait a little longer, because in a spectacular match the score was 2-2. Without creative midfielders Joey Veerman (PSV) and Calvin Stengs (Feyenoord), it became a beautiful, intense fighting match. Although the final blow has not been dealt to Feyenoord, the consolidation of a ten-point lead means that PSV can hardly avoid the first national title since 2018.

As expected, playmaker Veerman will not get off the team bus on Sunday, just after 1 p.m. He has a minor injury. Ismael Saibari is also not there. Due to the absence of those two midfielders, it is not possible for Bosz to use his ideal formation for top matches: controller Jerdy Schouten often plays as a central defender. Now the sometimes vulnerable André Ramalho starts in that position and Mauro Junior takes Veerman’s position.

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an extensive profile of PSV coach Peter Bosz

Running ability and dueling power

Ramalho’s unrest is immediately visible with the first two touches of the ball, when Feyenoord striker Santiago Gimenez puts him under pressure. Feyenoord plays with a modified, more defensive formation, with 18-year-old midfielder Antoni Milambo instead of striker Igor Paixao. Coach Arne Slot hopes to create an extra man in midfield. He needs “running ability” and “dueling power” against PSV, he says in advance, so he wants to “weather the PSV storm”.

It does not work. Feyenoord is searching for the new formation and is quickly coming under great pressure. PSV opens exasperated, combines fluently, when Feyenoord backs away.

A tight, hard deep pass from Ramalho to striker Luuk de Jong, who deftly taps the ball in one go to attacking midfielder Malik Tillman. Defender David Hancko plays through his legs with feeling. And he’s gone. Tillman shoots carefully, not even that hard, into the far corner: 1-0, after just four minutes.

Feyenoord is having a hard time due to PSV’s ‘high’ and aggressive pressure. It is difficult to achieve a good structure. Illustrative is how Ramiz Zerrouki gets stuck at the back and has to commit a foul to prevent worse. And a little later Quinten Timber has to let a ball run over the sideline when he takes a sloppy shot. Slot, meanwhile, is constantly gesturing to his players: move further away from his own goal.

It is carelessness by PSV that helps Feyenoord back into the match. Long ball from Feyenoord goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther, a covering error from Olivier Boscagli and striker Santiago Gimenez is suddenly completely free. He has all the time, perhaps even too much, when goalkeeper Walter Benitez comes in handy and cleverly reduces his goal. He saves. The fist can be seen.

A little later things still go wrong at PSV. The usually reliable Frenchman Boscagli makes another mistake when he hesitates too long when defending. The fast attacker Yankuba Minteh puts intense pressure, wins the ball, cuts out Benitez and calmly makes it 1-1. Boscagli immediately drops to the ground and shouts a few swear words.

Escaped twice

PSV has field dominance and plays football more easily. Feyenoord escapes twice within a minute. First, Feyenoord defender Thomas Beelen almost works a cross from Sergino Dest into his own goal with his backside – the ball hits the post. After which Tillman, after sloppy defending from Feyenoord, also shot at the post in a very promising position, Wellenreuther’s fingertips perhaps made the difference. And moments later, Schouten shoots just wide after a clever running action from a good through ball from Teze.

Feyenoord tries to take PSV out of the rhythm, tries to slow down by buying some time every now and then. In the meantime, it is a beautiful, fascinating fight, at the cutting edge.

Mats Wieffer leads the way at Feyenoord, making a major tackle on the ball in a duel with Jordan Teze, after having already pushed off Ramalho moments earlier. The PSV crowd shouted “Serdar whore boy” en masse for several minutes in the direction of referee Gözübüyük. This after several decisions that they did not agree with – such as a yellow card for Teze. The match is not stopped.

PSV gets more chances before half time, shoots more on target, has more ball possession, but cannot express that dominance in more goals. While PSV in the Eredivisie often manages to find an extra gear when necessary, it looks vulnerable after the break. Feyenoord insists, senses the unrest at PSV. Ramalho misses a header, in a sprint with Gimenez on the left flank. The Mexican striker escapes, but Benitez saves his shot.

Now it is Feyenoord that misses two enormous opportunities in a short time, after a rejected free kick. The first is for captain Lutsharel Geertruida, and then for the young defender Thomas Beelen. Both stand diagonally in front of the goal, shoot hard. But Benitez made excellent saves twice. It is not without reason that he was chosen as man of the match afterwards.

Bart Nieuwkoop is disappointed, Feyenoord remains ten points behind PSV
Photo Maurice van Steen/ANP

But the Argentinian also has no chance in the 61st minute. Geertruida continues well on the right, passes to Gimenez who is completely free just in front of the goal. Although he is having a crisis of form, the Mexican cannot miss this time: 2-1 for Feyenoord.

Typical of the intensity is perhaps the moment between De Jong and Wieffer at a corner, a little later. They don’t give each other an inch, they hold each other in a kind of tango while sprinting, battling through the penalty area, while pulling on each other’s shirts. If Wieffer pushes his opponent on the sideline, he gets a yellow card and PSV gets a free kick.

PSV is having a hard time, can’t find the opening and creates very little. But the strength of the bench has proven to be a weapon many times this season. Guus Til, just back from an injury, is brought in. And seven minutes later he makes it 2-2 out of nowhere: a nice pass from De Jong through the heart of the defense, Til shoots in impeccably.

And that’s it. PSV repulses Feyenoord’s attack: ten points ahead with ten matches to go. As former PSV player Memphis Depay said in a video on the club channel on Sunday morning: “Just a little while and we will be champions.” Please be patient.