KNVB Beker preview PSV – AZ: A consolation prize for PSV, but a prize nonetheless
The surge for a title win is continuing. Now five years without a league title, a rarity in the recent history of the Eindhovenaren, they must settle for less again. With the second place all but officially clinched, Champions League football might be on the cards for them, but manager Dick Advocaat joined the club with one clear goal, picking up that title, and will feel his season has been a failure. Consequently, ‘De Kleine Generaal’ (The little general, dubbed after assisting Michels) is likely to leave his post after the season, as he had stated earlier: ‘ (If we don’t win the league title) I feel I have failed’.
The Dutch Cup final offers mere consolation as does the second place. Kevin Strootman, who is one of Europe’s hottest properties at the moment, has already called for ‘no further official celebrations’ were they to win said Cup final. But the community of Eindhoven have decided differently. The usual way of proceedings in the city is only league titles are celebrated. The people from Noord-Brabant do appreciate a party though, hence the announcement that a win would see players and staff expected to show up at ‘Strijp S’.
There are those who are taking the Cup final seriously though, something that can be expected of the reigning holders, as they have won the ‘KNVB Beker’ last season too. Jeremain Lens for instance. The former AZ-player has been under contract at PSV Eindhoven for three years now and is looking to leave in the summer. The attacker is suspended for the last league game and wants to end his period at PSV on a positive note. PSV-captain Mark van Bommel doesn’t know what he will do yet. The 36 year old midfielder has a cabinet full of prizes already, but he is adamant to add this one to the collection. ‘(Not winning a title might have been a disappointment) But it is easy to put the switch back on once there is a prize involved. I’ve only won one Cup in the Netherlands. If you can win a prize, I’d love to add one to my name. Nothing is easier than to win a prize in one game, although you have to get through previous rounds to get there. In the end, a career is defined by the prizes you win.’ Dick Advocaat looks forward to the Cup final as well. ‘It might be a consolation prize, but it still is a prize. Once you get into the stadium and taste the atmosphere, you’ll want to win that Cup.’
PSV played AZ only a month ago away in Alkmaar and the Eindhovenaren beat their opponents quite comfortably (1-3) and in the home game earlier this season they were superior as well (5-1). They will be looking to take the feeling of those matches towards the meeting in De Kuip. With second place all but officially secured, there is no reason for PSV to rest players for their last league game away against FC Twente and Advocaat will be looking to field his strongest eleven. Only absentee is Dutch international and right winger Luciano Narsingh, who has been out ever since January with a knee injury. Boy Waterman will start in goal, with Hutchinson, Marcelo, Bouma and Willems (right to left) in front of him. A holding duo of Mark Van Bommel and Kevin Strootman will be looking to take control of the midfield. The attack will be led by either Matavz or Lens and , depending on who is favoured by Advocaat, the trio of Wijnaldum/ Lens, Toivonen and Mertens will support them from the midfield.
PSV have been quite the potent team this season, scoring 102 league goals already and 143 in total, approaching their record of 144 goals in one season from 1987/1988. In fact, only FC Utrecht have prevented the Eindhoven-team from scoring in any domestic competition this season. With Advocaat likely to leave and Ola Toivonen (who is tracked by several English clubs), Kevin Strootman, Jeremain Lens and Mark van Bommel still uncertain about the future at the club, PSV will be looking to continue the free-scoring vibe that has surrounded the team the whole season and end the season on a high and give those who leave an appropriate farewell.