A positive result against FC Chornomorets Odesa in PSV Eindhoven's final UEFA Europa League Group B assignment would not only secure the Eredivisie side's place in the round of 32, but also potentially help prompt a "turnaround" in their fortunes.
That is the view of midfielder Oscar Hiljemark, who recognises how significant an extension of the Dutch club's European campaign could prove in the months ahead. The Swedish Under-21 international and his team-mates have hardly enjoyed themselves recently, certainly not since their 2-0 victory over the Ukrainian outfit on matchday two.
In the 12 games that have followed, Phillip Cocu's men have won just twice, exited the Dutch Cup and on Saturday were beaten 6-2 at home by league leaders Vitesse, their third successive defeat. The good news is that, with the sides level on seven points, the 1978 UEFA Cup winners will go through in the event of a draw due to their superior head-to-head record.
"Tomorrow is a chance for a turnaround, to win and to begin a good run," said the 21-year-old, a January 2013 arrival from IF Elfsborg. "Hopefully we can get through so we can play European football after the winter break."
Hiljemark only appeared for the last ten minutes of the reverse fixture on 3 October, when goals from Memphis Depay and Florian Jozefzoon earned PSV the points – yet he saw enough to appreciate how technically proficient Chornomorets are.
"They are a good team who work hard and are also good on the ball," he said. "It's going to be a tough game, a difficult match, but we know what we are playing for and it's big games like these that we players want to play in."
Coach Cocu, whose side are languishing tenth in the Eredivisie, added: "We know the types of players they have and also their qualities, but tomorrow is a special match and they have to win so we don't know how they are going to start. We will have to prepare ourselves to play our own game." He is doing so knowing the banned Jeffrey Bruma can play no part.
Chornomorets, fifth in the Ukrainian Premier League, suffered their first reverse in seven at the weekend when they lost 1-0 to visiting FC Shakhtar Dontesk. The Black Sea club nonetheless arrive in the Netherlands in good heart and are not reading too much into their hosts' travails.
"We have watched PSV's last few matches," said coach Roman Grygorchuk, without suspended defender Markus Berger. "Though results haven't been good, they have played very well in phases. PSV didn't lose because they played badly, but because they were unlucky.
"We are taking this game very seriously and we have taken enough time to prepare so that we can make a good start tomorrow. Our squad is as good as complete and we have come here to try to get a good result."
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