PSV Eindhoven defied the odds to reach the Champions League knockout stages, and they now hope to continue the trend against impenetrable Atletico Madrid. Los Colchoneros are determined to reach the final stages of the competition third time in a row and they will fancy their chances of winning at Phillips Stadium.
Following several difficult years, PSV Eindhoven have shown a great deal of improvement under Phillip Cocu and they are on the right track to turn this season into a major success. The team are currently fully focused on the Eredivisie title chase, where they have leapfrogged bitter rivals Ajax thanks to an eight-match winning run and they currently hold a one-point advantage over the Amsterdammers. And while nobody really expected PSV to go far in the Champions League, they have exceeded expectations in Europe’s premium competition as well, progressing from a difficult group that also contained Manchester United, Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow. Nevertheless, having mostly faced bottom table sides from the Eredivisie of late, PSV could find it hard to match the intensity of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday night, especially with key midfielder Andres Guardado struggling for fitness and top scorer Luuk de Jong unavailable for selection. And after losing the first two meetings against los Colchoneros, we are afraid that the trend is going to continue.
Key attacker Luuk de Jong misses out through suspension, but Andres Guardado should return after missing three weeks of action .
Maxime Lestienne is also back in contention having recovered from an ankle problem, but he will probably have to wait for his chance on the bench.
There were only a couple of minutes standing between Atletico Madrid and the Champions League trophy two years ago, but los Colchoneros didn’t seem to find the heartbreaking defeat too difficult to bear as they returned stronger last term to reach the semi-final, albeit again losing to arch rivals Real Madrid. Diego Simeone’s charges again aim to launch an assault on the Champions League trophy and they shouldn’t face too many problems in the first knockout stage against PSV Eindhoven. The weekend’s goalless draw against high flying Villarreal all but ended Atletico’s hopes of clinching the La Liga trophy and having kept a six-point advantage over fourth-placed Yellow Submarine, Atletico can now fully focus on their Champions League campaign. If we disregard the unexpected home defeat to Benfica, los Colchoneros have been quite convincing in Europe this term, winning four of remaining five games, conceding just one goal in the process. And with their back line again in full working order, they look a good bet to win at Phillips Stadium.
Diego Simeone welcomes back Augusto Fernandez from a knee problem, with the Argentine having missed last three games through injury.
However, Tiago Mendes, Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and Thomas Partey are not yet ready to return and they have been left out of the squad.
Key Factors to Consider
- Atletico recorded 3-0 win on their previous visit to Phillips Stadium
- Los Colchoneros also won the return leg in Madrid (2-1)
- PSV won all three group games on home soil
- Atletico kept four clean sheets in six group fixtures
- Los Colchoneros did not concede in four of last five away games
PSV Eindhoven may have been on top of their game in Dutch Eredivisie, but the Atletico clash will be a whole different ball game and no doubts their star striker Luuk de Jong will be sorely missed. Diego Simeone’s counter-attacking style seems perfectly suited for this game and we, therefore, expect the visitors to emerge victorious.
Verdict: Away win
Best Odds: 17/20
Bookmaker: William Hill