PSV Eindhoven coach Ronald Koeman has admitted to being intrigued by Wednesday's Group G opponents PFC CSKA Moskva, yet he remains confident of his side's chances.
PSV Eindhoven coach Ronald Koeman has admitted to being intrigued by Wednesday's Group G opponents PFC CSKA Moskva, yet he remains confident about his side's chances.
Five at the back
"CSKA don't play in a way we're used to in the Netherlands," said Koeman. "They normally have five at the back, with three in the middle and full-backs who overlap. That's not something we come up against every week. And we also know they have strikers that can make a difference, so we are definitely not underestimating them."
The system the Russian champions generally use could help the PSV coach solve a selection quandary – with left-back Mike Zonneveld suspended, Koeman may bring in a left-sided midfielder. "Players like Edison Méndez or Jason Culina are possibilities because they can defend and attack," he said. The other dilemma is deciding who will replace midfielder Otman Bakkal, who is struggling to overcome a knee injury.
'Plenty of quality'
PSV have started well in their defence of the Dutch title that they won by a single goal on the final day of last season. Saturday's 1-0 home victory over BV Vitesse means the Eindhoven team have taken ten points from a possible 12. "We have given very little away at the back so far," said Koeman. "CSKA will provide a stern test, but I have a good feeling about it. We have plenty of quality in our squad, and have more attacking options than last season."
One of those options is striker Jefferson Farfán. He is back in the reckoning after ankle ligament problems and made his first appearance of the campaign as a substitute against Vitesse. "It's not unthinkable that Jeff will start against CSKA," said Koeman, although he did add that the Peruvian international is not yet fully fit. Danny Koevermans therefore looks likely to make his UEFA Champions League debut.
Koevermans scored PSV's weekend winner – and CSKA may have felt inclined to look on with envy. Due to a combination of international fixtures and rescheduled Russian Cup matches, they have not played since drawing 1-1 with city rivals FC Spartak Moskva on 2 September – not that coach Valeri Gazzaev is worried. "Many of my players were representing their countries and the rest have been training hard. We are well prepared," he said.
Gazzaev watched PSV on Saturday. "I didn't think it was a great performance. I've seen them play better, and I think they will be a different proposition against us. They are well balanced and solid. I would say they start as favourites. But my players are in form, so will give a good account of themselves." With playmaker Daniel Carvalho ruled out by a long-term knee injury, CSKA's chief goal threat should come from Vágner Love, who has netted six times in seven Premier-Liga appearances since returning from the Copa América. He is one aspect of CSKA's formation PSV could tire of seeing.