PSV head coach Roger Schmidt was in a relaxed mood when he previewed Sunday’s game against Ajax during his weekly press briefing on Friday afternoon. PSV’s head coach has the rare luxury of having close to a full-strength squad to choose from when PSV make the trip to the Johan Cruyff Arena to face Ajax in the first big game of the current season.
Showdown with Ajax
Schmidt refers to the clash between the two Eredivisie title contenders as a ‘big game’, but was quick to play down the significance of the match. “There are plenty more to come after that and it won’t be decided in one big game”. Yet the German manager is looking forward to the first big Eredivisie game of the current season. “I can’t wait. The players have a great opportunity to show their skills in PSV’s showdown with Ajax.”
Schmidt will not adapt his game plan for Sunday’s game. Defending compactly and producing threat on the counter-attack is no option. “We must create a lot of chances to get a result. We know we will need to play a high-intensity game on Sunday if we are to overcome Ajax.” Schmidt had ten days to prepare his players for the game, more than in the hectic schedule before the winter break. “We had time to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Ajax. They have a lot of quality but we may capitalise on their lack of organisation.”
A near full-strength squad
Schmidt provided an injury update. “There is some good news from the treatment table: Eran Zahavi and Guti have been given the go-ahead and have trained all week. Marco van Ginkel and Mario Götze are doubtful for Sunday, but the latter has joined his team mates for full training on Friday morning.” Schmidt feels this could be the right moment to take on Ajax. “I don’t have to tell you again that the past few months have been far from easy for us. We now have a near full- strength squad to choose from, so this may be the tight time to play Ajax.”
Schmidt dismissed the idea of a two-horse race for the Dutch Eredivisie, insisting that Vitesse, Feyenoord and AZ are also keen to compete for the title.” The PSV manager was an attentive observer of the clash between Ajax and PSV but does not want to look back too much. “Ajax were confident and PSV were not. But that’s history. I’d rather look ahead.” The match between Ajax and PSV kicks off in two days’ time and Schmidt has a strong, key message for his players: Be focused, motivated and play your heart out.”