It is time for the biggest game in Dutch football, as PSV Eindhoven host AFC Ajax at the Philips Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The sixth Eredivisie round will see both title contenders go head-to-head, as PSV welcomes Ajax in the so-called ‘New Classic’.
Both sides kicked the 2019-20 campaign with a draw in early August, the champions drew at Vitesse (2-2), while PSV shared the points with Twente.
Since then, however, they’ve registered four wins in a row in the Dutch Championship, with only three goals dividing them on the top of the table.
PSV will welcome their bitter rivals on the back of an exciting 3-2 win against Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League opener last Thursday.
The Jews also started their European campaign on a high note, as they thrashed Lille 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League opening round.
PSV boss Mark van Bommel faces some serious injury trouble with more than five names on his missing list.
Sam Lammers, Ibrahim Afellay and Gaston Pereiro are among those names, while youngster Donyell Malen is the one to watch, after netting five goals against Vitesse in the previous Eredivisie round.
— PSV (@PSV) September 20, 2019
The reigning champions will travel to Eindhoven without their promising full-back Noussair Mazraoui. Donny van de Beek will be with the squad, but his involvement in the game is still under question.
Eric ten Hag does not have any other injury doubts, with Dusan Tadic expected to captain his side in the biggest game of the season so far.
Talk to the press
Mark van Bommel admits Ajax are the favorites to retain their Eredivisie crown, but says not always the favorites win titles in football.
“At the start of the season, Ajax were generally regarded favorites to win the Dutch title and they still are. They splashed the cash on players during the summer transfer window and have a squad with quality and depth.
“Yet we have some quality players as well. Ajax may be favorites to clinch the title, but the favourites are not necessarily crowned champions at the end of the season.
“I know it is a cliché, but our fans are instrumental in supporting us. From young to old, our fans will always back us through thick and thin. There is a strong bond between the players and our supporters,” said Van Bommel at the press conference.
Looking forward to… #psvaja
— AFC Ajax (@AFCAjax) September 20, 2019
Erik ten Hag says Ajax will play their game this weekend, despite the fact that they conceded three goals in their most recent visit to Eindhoven.
“We will be playing our own game, attacking. That we lost 3-0 there [at the Philips Stadium] last season doesn’t mean anything to me.
“Ajax has often lost in Eindhoven. We can break that by starting from our own strength,” said Ten Hag before the game vs PSV.
“He [Van de Beek] has resumed group training on Wednesday. We are going to evaluate his activities from the last days. Maybe he can come along. But I am not willing to take risks with him. Of course, PSV is an important game. many more important duels for us. ”
Both sides met each other at the start of the new season, with Ajax beating PSV 2-0 in the Dutch Super Cup, to lift the trophy for the ninth time.
The hosts are on a six-game winning streak across all competition. They are unbeaten in their last 10 outings, registering eight wins and two draws in the process.
AFC Ajax are still undefeated in 11 official games (domestic and European) in the 2019-20 campaign.
They have registered three draws – all of them on the road – and eight wins, failing to find the net only on one occasion.
PSV had an almost perfect home record last season, noting 16 wins and one draw (1-1 vs Feyenoord) in the Dutch Championship.
They have the bragging rights over their next opponent, having beaten Ajax in their last three encounters at the Philips Stadium without even conceding a goal.