PSV Can Reignite Champions League Hopes with Win at Vitesse

Liam NewmanContributor IMarch 13, 2014

PSV's Adam Maher  celebrates with teammate Luciano Narsing, left,  after scoring against Dinamo Zagreb  during a Europa League group B  soccer match between PSV Eindhoven and Dinamo Zagreb at the Philips stadium in Eindhoven, southern Netherlands, Thursday, Nov.7, 2013.(AP Photo/Ermindo Armino)
Ermindo Armino/Associated Press

At the start of 2014, PSV Eindhoven appeared to be set for one of their most disappointing seasons in history; fast-forward just a few short weeks and Phillip Cocu's side hold genuine aspirations of securing Champions League qualification for the second successive season.

As Eredivisie football resumed following the winter break, the Eindhoven club were languished in seventh place and facing a genuine battle even for a place in the end of season play-offs. However, as we enter the final seven matches, PSV are now up to fifth and could close the gap to just two points if they can mastermind victory at the GelreDome on Saturday.

Cocu's men have come a long way from the side that so unspectacularly dropped out of the Europa League group stages with a humiliating defeat to Ukrainian side Chornomorets on December 12. It is no secret that Rood-witten struggled to juggle the commitments of European and domestic football, but nobody could have predicted this dramatic resurrection.

Whilst the majority of Eredivisie fans would have tipped the Philips Stadion club to enjoy a better second-half to the season, it appeared that they were cut too far adrift from the top four. But somehow Cocu has managed to turn the team's fortunes around and suddenly a Europa League spot would arguably be a slightly disappointing outcome.

PSV are now flying high on the back of six consecutive triumphs, beating FC Twente in the process, and are easily the form side of Dutch football. Ryan Ferguson of believes that having a full week to prepare for matches has allowed Cocu the chance to showcase his astute tactical knowledge and cites the dominating display against Utrecht as the perfect example. If you compare results before and after their Europa League exit, it is hard to argue that the added preparation time has had a major impact.

Whilst PSV know that this weekend's contest is perhaps their hardest remaining fixture, particularly as Vitesse have recovered well from their minor blip to record three consecutive wins heading into Saturday's clash, they can be confident of getting the desired result.

The Arnhem club may have claimed an emphatic 6-2 victory at the Philips Stadion in December, but that game did come just days before PSV's important game with Chornomorets and also came at a time where Cocu's side were missing key defenders Bruma and Willems.

With Ajax on course to retain their crown, it is now down to Vitesse, PSV, Feyenoord and Twente to do battle for that second Champions League place.

Whilst Cocu's men do face a difficult task this Saturday, they know that victory would pile the pressure on both Twente and Feyenoord, who do not play until Sunday, especially as they face the tough challenges of AZ and Heerenveen respectively.

If you'd have said PSV would finish second six weeks ago, you'd have been laughed out of the building. However, the Eindhoven club have hit form at the perfect time. If they can pick up three points in Arnhem then they'll have to be considered as genuine contenders for a second-placed finish.

It could be a gripping end to the Eredivisie season.