PSV out of Champions League: A hard blow ends their summer of euphoria and hope
The hard-fought matches, winning the Supercup over Ajax and the convincing European performances against Galatasaray and Midtjylland: There was no one left at PSV late Tuesday evening who still attached great importance to them. Benfica struck a major blow in Eindhoven after a month full of euphoria followed by hope for the play-offs of the Champions League.
PSV wanted to be one of the best 32 clubs in Europe again, but will have to wait at least another year for that. More than 1.16 million people watched PSV miss out on the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday night. The Eindhoven team was dispatched with a 0-0 draw to Benfica at home, nearly a week after the team put PSV down 2-1 in Lisbon.
The people of Eindhoven will miss out on millions of euros due to the elimination. That will weigh heavily on PSV when it tries to turn the corner, perhaps even more heavily than the sporting aspect.
Captain Marco van Ginkel expressed his disappointment, trainer Roger Schmidt gave a shocked impression and the chagrin was certainly visible in Toon Gerbrands. Two years ago, the general director wrote the 'Vision 2030' plan, which described how PSV should rejoin Europe’s top football clubs. After a few disappointing seasons, PSV invested heavily in its group of players. All the pieces fell together in recent weeks, and PSV received a great deal of praise. The machine faltered when it all had to click into place against Benfica. The enormous disappointment was felt throughout the Philips Stadium.
Van Ginkel was critical, also of Schmidt. The midfielder did not understand why he was substituted. He also felt that the coach should have made more attacking changes and sent more players forward in the final phase. "This is very disappointing for the whole group. Everyone had high hopes and wanted to make it to the Champions League. The disappointment is great now, and I think tomorrow, too. Then the switch has to be turned on again. This will take a few days. It’s difficult. Then you go again for the next prize. In the end you have nothing now."
Schmidt didn't think he had made the wrong change. He felt that certain players did not reach their usual level, and he, too, lacked a certain spirit. "We needed new energy. Many players are not used to playing these matches," said the German. "Benfica is an experienced team and can play tight and well defensively. We have a team that has to find the solution in football. That is not easy with little space."
When their play on the football field failed, PSV also did not switch to Plan B. Schmidt had made it clear that the selection must be supplemented with a few physically strong players during the last week of the transfer market. Now in his group, he said, he did not have those footballers at his disposal. Thoughts quickly turn to striker Luuk de Jong, although PSV will also have to be inventive to get him after missing out on the Champions League.
Reporting by ANP