AFC Ajax will look to set up another breathless last-ditch scramble for the Dutch title as they visit PSV Eindhoven tonight with coach Adrie Koster saying "we have a chance again".
Last season, PSV let a comfortable lead at the top of the table slip before snatching the title on the final day of the season, and lightning could yet strike twice. This evening they take on Ajax in a tie rescheduled from a week-and-a-half ago, and they are in danger of allowing another comfortable margin to slip away. Ahead of the original fixture when a police strike forced a postponement, PSV were six points clear of second-placed Ajax, but with the Amsterdam side winning 4-1 against Willem II at the weekend and PSV drawing 1-1 at Roda JC, that margin is down and a win for Ajax tonight would leave a solitary point separating the sides. "Thanks to PSV we have a chance again," said Ajax coach Koster.
Things would certainly be desperately tight at the top should Ajax prevail, with Koster unable to resist pointing out that his side have a better goal difference; +40 to PSV's +35. "We have to win there, then there will be only one point between us, with the better goal difference also in our favour," said the 53-year-old, who played for PSV between 1979 and 1983. However, Koster is aware that winning in Eindhoven is a big ask, and is keeping his cards close to his chest. "It's obvious that we have to attack. We can only be champions by winning. But we must also give very little away as PSV only need one chance to score – we saw that earlier this season," said Koster, reflecting on a 2-0 home defeat in January.
PSV know there is no need for panic. A win would open up a seven-point gap and give them valuable breathing space ahead of their UEFA Cup quarter-final ties with ACF Fiorentina on 3 and 10 April. It seems logical that they will play the same way as they did in beating Tottenham Hotspur FC in the Round of 32, but coach Sef Vergoossen said: "Logical, but not certain." He has cause to be cagey. On 18 March last year, PSV lost 5-1 at home to Ajax to spark the notorious end-of-season frenzy. How Ajax would love a repeat performance.
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