In a game marred by the gut-wrenching injury to Luke Shaw, PSV’s solid rearguard managed to secure an excellent win for the Eredivisie champions on their return to the UEFA Champions League.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
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memph psvmanIt was a game with alot of expectation pinned on the shoulders of this youthful PSV side but they managed to send shockwaves through Europe with a disciplined performance against the English juggernauts, Manchester United in a 2-1 win.

From the beginning of the match, it was obvious that Cocu had drilled his young chargers to suffocate Manchester United’s star studded attack and fall back to a more reactive style of play. Jorrit Hendrix seems to have found his way back into the side with the injury to Adam Maher and was tasked with marking Juan Mata while Mata targeted Hendrix in United’s preliminary press. This made it difficult for the Rood-Witten defence to play out of the back and further increased the reliance on Andres Guardado.

Guardardo, was tightly marked and got little joy in the opening stages as the United midfield constantly squeezed the ball out of the Mexican. In the final third PSV lacked the verve of Maher as Propper was tasked with supporting De Jong with Guardado as the deep-lying playmaker.

PSV’s strength, as it normally is, was from the flanks as Dutch U21 International Joshua Brenet put in a performance at left-back which effectively kept Ashley Young out of the game. Brenet regained possession nine times as he was only bettered by Schweinsteger with 12. He also used his imposing size to make driving runs in the Manchester United half as he put in a performance worthy of the man of the match award.

Maxime Lestienne, who grabbed two assists on the night supported Brenet well as he never allowed Young and Matteo Darmian to take Brenet 2 on 1 in a game where he put in a shift in both halves. Santiago Arias also held his position well as he made 5 interceptions and his game was only blighted by a lapse which allowed Memphis to get in behind and use slick close control to beat him and Bruma to slide the ball through Zoet’s legs and score.

Hector Moreno’s game will be forever remembered for the horrific tackle that ulitmately sent Luke Shaw to the hospital but it is important to take into account the defender’s facial expression after as he didn’t intentionally make the tackle to injure Shaw. The Mexican won 4 out of 5 of his aerial duels while making two blocks in what was a solid performance from him.

Jeffrey Bruma put in a performance reminiscent of his former mentor at Chelsea John Terry as his positioning and command of the defence were outstanding. He won 100% of his five tackles while making two blocks tonight as he was ever present when Manchester United managed to get the ball into the box. Chelsea have a buyback clause inserted into the 23 year-old Dutchman’s contract and tonight he showed just why.

PSV were obviously fazed by the bright lights of Europe tonight as they failed to create any meaningful chances in the first half. The buildup was easily halted by Manchester United as attacking outlets Lestienne and Narsingh were too eager to make runs in behind and were caught offside the few times PSV managed to play United into compromising positions. The absence of Adam Maher dovetailing De Jong as the number 10 was clear as the towering Dutchman was left to fend for himself against Smalling and Blind/Rojo who kept him out of the game.

PSV managed to level through Moreno who rose above his marker to head past a helpless De Gea with the help of a Daley Blind deflection in first-half added time. Manager Phillip Cocu proved himself a tactician with the way he managed to alter his team’s approach to the game after the interval as he scrapped the high-pressing play for a deep-lying counter-attacking system. PSV had made themselves vulnerable by pushing bodies high and losing the ball through sub-par buildup play and leaving acres of space in behind.

PSV occupied the central positions and teased wide passes where Brenet and Arias with their deep-positioned wingers in Lestienne and Narsingh had things well covered and if the Red Devils managed to get a delivery into the box Moreno and Bruma were on hand to sweep up as Martial lacked the aerial ability to properly challenge them.

Guardado managed to find a pass to Lestienne who charged down the left flank to supply a sumptuous cross to Narsingh who was on hand to score a diving header to put PSV ahead in what was a textbook PSV counter-attack to make it 2-1. The goal from then on was to protect the lead and PSV were comfortable until the introduction of Marouane Fellaini who unsettled the defence with his aerial ability.

However, whenever Manchester United managed to find a path into the PSV box, a slew of red and white shirts were on hand to provide blocks and clearances. Cocu saw that Manchester United’s build-up was slow and laboured and would struggle to create anything meaningful if they had more men behind the ball. PSV also had a few chances to score from a tame Lestienne shot, an overzealous De Jong shot and a misplaced Narsingh pass to Locadia.

It was a brand of counter-attacking football that some Dutch fans were craving after seeing Ajax battered by better opposition year after year playing their craft of total football. It gives PSV something to build-on going forward as they still have it all to do in their tough group. The effects of this match could have a big effect on the long term with Brenet producing a rigid performance at left-back, Hendrix solid in defensive- midfield and Bruma amazing at centre-back. All of them are young Dutchmen who with a little more of the same experiences in big games could refresh the Oranje in positions where they need new blood.

Cocu who was known to stick to his normal 4-3-3 system with little variation has proved himself a tactician with the world watching him collect the scalp of Louis Van Gaal. However, it is a hope that Guardado’s injury isn’t too serious and Maher, Willems and Ismait-Mirin could return to full fitness as soon as possible to bolster this young side.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)