Dutch Champions vs. The Immovable Madrid Object
Although PSV Eindhoven are champions in their domestic league coming into Wednesday’s match against 2014 UCL finalists Atletico Madrid, they won’t be the side with a characteristic that is indicative of being champs. No, the pressure will not be on them.
Instead, Diego Simeone’s men, coming off an unspectacular 0-0 draw against Villarreal at the weekend, will be the ones with the expectations of winning across two legs. Come kickoff, their lack of goal scoring threats and attacking depth will be weaknesses pointed out by fans and analysts.
PSV are no pushovers though, they won a hard-fought match this past Saturday against SC Heracles, winning 2-0, and holding a lead atop their table with 59 points.
— PSV International (@psveindhoven) February 23, 2016
Read on as AtleticoFans.com looks to identify each team’s recent form, their key players, their probable starting players and more.
Latest Run of Form Through All Competitions – L-L-W-W-D (Furthest right being most recent.)
Los Rojiblancos dropped points against Villarreal this past weekend, Barca are now eight points ahead, and the Copa Del Rey isn’t a possible trophy to win anymore. Things are grim for Alteti fans.
The light at the end of the tunnel? A good chance to make a deep-run for the UEFA Champions League title. The Red and White’s got to the final in the 13/14 season and knocked the Blaugrana off their perch to win La Liga the same year.
Given that they have only conceded 11 goals in 25 Liga games this campaign, if they can get more goals in the back of their opponent’s net, Simeone’s men can realistically challenge any team. They are undoubtedly the best defensive unit among Europe’s top five leagues, and that will go a long way to European glory.
Speaking of the Argentinian manager, according to Opta stats, Atleti has made it to the knockout stages of the UCL for the third consecutive season, something the Spanish club has never done before. Cholo is largely responsible for that fact, and has established a winning mentality among those who put on the Red and White jersey.
When they enter the Philips Stadion in Holland on Wednesday, they will do so knowing they are expected to win, but also knowing they need to score. In the past 7 games, across all fixtures, they have only scored more than one goal, twice.
Atletico Madrid Possible XI – Jan Oblak; Juanfran, Josema Gimenez, Godin, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi, Saul, Oliver Torres; Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann.
Key Players –
- Koke – If the Spaniard is decisive, he is usually a huge difference maker on the score sheet, whether scoring himself or helping to create a chance. It was he, who broke the deadlock against Barca last month to make the Camp Nou go quiet. Simeone needs that Koke to help influence Wednesday’s game on the front-foot. He already has three Liga goals this year, one more than last year’s totals, and leads his team with eight assists in all leagues.
- Antoine Griezmann – He’s Atleti’s leading goal scorer, and sometimes feels like their only one. In the same last seven games mentioned above, the France international has only scored one goal. Connect the dots and you’ll see that he’s a huge reason his side can’t get on the score sheet some days.
Latest Run of Form Through All Competitions – W-W-W-W-W
The Dutch side haven’t reached the quarterfinals in the UEFA tournament since 2007, and will be looking to edge closer to that feat when they host the Spanish club for the first time since the 08/09 season. That campaign saw them lose to the Madrid side twice in group stage matches.
They will be without key forward Luuk de Jong due to suspension, but PSV fans can find comfort in the possible return of Andres Guardado, who due to hamstring complications, has been out on the sidelines.
In the past five games, Phillip Cocu’s men have scored 14 goals, something they need to do against a rock-solid club like Atletico.
— Atleti English (@atletienglish) February 23, 2016
PSV Possible XI – Zoet; Arias, Bruma, Moreno, Willems; Propper Guardado, Hendrix; Pereiro, Locadia, Narsingh.
Key Players –
- Gaston Pereiro – With de Jong out, the Uruguayan will need to step up in the goals department against the likes of Godin and Gimenez. He’s second on the team with nine goals.
- Andres Guardado – The Mexican leads his squad with eight assists and will need to find a way to find spaces in Atleti’s suffocating midfield. He could be the X-factor, if he plays.