After managing to secure a vital goal in the first leg, PSV would be smart to focus on soaking up Atletico pressure and pouncing on the break. The first leg proved how dangerous Atletico can be if they are allowed to win the ball off a nervy back four and get in behind a dangerously high-line.

  • By Chaka Simbeye
  • Follow¬†Chaka on Twitter

psv alrPSV are certainly not the favourites for their second-leg match against Atletico Madrid but after managing to keep the score level with 10 men, they go into this match hoping the away goals rule can carry them into the next round. In the couldron of the Vicente Calderon with Atletico scoring three in their last three as Antoine Griezmann is rediscovering his best form with four goals in his last four, Atletico are a much different proposition. PSV may have to soak up the pressure and hit Atletico on the break to get something out of this tie.

PSV certainly have to move their defence deeper than at the Phillips Stadion as Jeffrey Bruma had to clear off his line before some fans had even sat down at the beginning of the game. PSV were caught off by Atletico’s intensity as they pressed well and targeted Hector Moreno as they had the two centre-backs running towards their goal a number of times. The Dutch team were lucky as Luciano Vietto has struggled to find proper goalscoring form in his first season at Atletico and Griezmann was on a barren run. Griezmann is back on form and the Rojiblancos have the tricky Yannick Fereira-Carrasco back so they can not afford to be caught playing a dangerously high-line in this game.
Andres Guardado was given too much to do in front of the defence and sometimes wasn’t given enough support on both sides of the ball. He managed to open the game up with some clever switch balls but whenever PSV lost the ball, the midfield was left too open and the defence was vulnerable. Marco Van Ginkel seemed to have been overwhelmed by the intensity and energy of Atletico’s midfield while Davy Propper had to provide nous in the final third with Jurgen Locadia and Luciano Narsingh failing to get the better of Juanfran and Filipe Luis, while also dropping to attend to his defensive responsibilities. PSV have to play Jorrit Hendrix with Andres Guardado and Davy Propper in order to have an extra man shielding the defence and to allow Guardado to link things up further up the pitch.

Hendrix will bring more balance into the lineup and it will bring more security to the defence with an extra man in front of them while he is also adept at playing as an auxiliary centre-back and will cover for Bruma and Moreno if need be. He can charge forward to great effect on the press and not give Atletico time on the ball while also being the midfield anchor if PSV lose the ball in transition, he also buzzes around the field at great intensity and can be used to man-mark certain opponents. Van Ginkel has been nothing short of amazing since joining PSV on loan but Hendrix is better suited to his game while he would be better suited to the match against Ajax.

The other concern for manager Phillip Cocu is the flanks as Locadia and Narsingh failed to have much of an effect on the game while Jetro Willems and Santiago Arias were pinned back for most of it. The spaces on the counter were there for all to see as Filipe Luis and Juanfran enjoy pushing up to overlap leaving spaces for PSV to utilise on the break. PSV can commit to playing on the counter or play with three centre-backs to push the fullbacks forward, which I suspect Cocu won’t do till the latter stages of the game. Both fullbacks will also have to be wary of the threat of Fereira-Carrasco who adds another dimension to the Atletico attack as he is able to go outside his fullback and cross or cut in and provide long-shots which will trouble Jeroen Zoet.

PSV will welcome back top scorer Luuk De Jong with open arms as he was dearly missed in Eindhoven. PSV were forced to play on the ground for much of the game and there was no focal point to the team. Now PSV can play long into their captain and Willems has a head for his searching crosses while Locadia and Narsingh have someone to run in behind. PSV will hope that their talisman is in his pomp on the night. It is also imperative that PSV play into Propper as he is the best Dutch midfielder in tight spaces at the moment. He created and had the only chance of meaning in the first leg and his ability to play neat, intuitive, defence-splitting passes and one-twos will help PSV on the break and in their buildup.

PSV are embarking on the most important seven days of their season as their second-leg against Atletico is only the tip of the iceberg as they have a clash with title rivals Ajax at home on Sunday. Madrid has been an unhappy hunting ground for Ajax in the past and the Dutch champions face an uphill battle to get to the next round but will be buoyed by the away goals rule and the fact that they didn’t lose the first game. Both teams felt and jabbed at eachother in the first game but the second leg could be an all-out brawl in Europe’s premier competition.

Chaka Simbeye (69 Posts)