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Gomes galvanised for PSV's big day

"The most important game of the season so far" – PSV Eindhoven keeper Heurelho Gomes is in no doubt what the visit to Fenerbahçe SK means to their campaign.

PSV Eindhoven, having waited so long to get past the UEFA Champions League group stage, have now done so three times in a row. Defeat at Fenerbahçe SK on Wednesday, however, could mark the end of that run.

Successful spell
Brazilian international goalkeper Heurelho Gomes arrived at PSV in 2004 – and it is since then that the club have made their breakthrough in this competition. Of course, the coach who led them to the quarter-finals last term, Ronald Koeman, has left for Valencia CF following the 0-0 home draw with the Turkish champions a fortnight ago, leaving Jan Wouters in caretaker charge in Istanbul.

Vital encounter
Gomes took a break from speculating about Koeman's successor to concentrate on the issue at hand: whether PSV can make strides in Group G, where they occupy third place, a point behind Fenerbahçe and two adrift of FC Internazionale Milano. "It is the most important game of the season so far," Gomes said. "It will not be decisive, though, as there are two more games to play. Although it is a pity we dropped two points at home, they have a great team and it will be very difficult at their place. But it will also be tough for Fenerbahçe – I just hope we are the lucky team."

Still a force
The Matchday 3 stalemate with Fenerbahçe, the departure of Koeman, and the weekend defeat at SC Heerenveen which caused PSV to drop into third place in the Eredivisie, have prompted talk about whether the Dutch title-holders – shorn this season of the talismanic Phillip Cocu and hugely talented defender Alex – are quite the force of old. Gomes begs to differ with the doubters. "We have done very well in the last few years and we still have a team capable of making progress," the 26-year-old said. "The ambition is as high as ever. Sometimes we do not play that well, but that is down to a lack of concentration. The team itself is good enough and experienced enough to continue the success. We have lost two good players. It is difficult to replace those sort of players."

Brazilian rivals
In fact, the only Alex on the pitch will be another of Gomes's compatriots, the Fenerbahçe playmaker, one of a number of Brazilians on an opposition team sheet that also includes Roberto Carlos and coach Zico. Gomes said: "I am very proud that there are a lot of Brazilians in Europe. And in the Champions League I am happy to be playing against Brazilian players – but I hope we win."