Having begun his career at PSV Eindhoven 14 years ago, Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden is hoping his alma mater will serve as a springboard once again as his Olympique de Marseille side look for points in Group D.
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Having launched his career at PSV Eindhoven 14 years ago, Dutch midfielder Boudewijn Zenden is hoping his alma mater will serve as a springboard once again on Tuesday, with his current side Olympique de Marseille bottom of UEFA Champions League Group D and desperate to restate their European aims in the Stade Vélodrome showdown.
A fourth consecutive defeat for Erik Gerets and his men would end their presence in the continental arena for at least another year, but victory would pull them level with their opponents on three points and leave them eyeing a UEFA Cup place at least. "It's a key match," said Zenden, who climbed through the ranks at the PSV Stadion before taking his first steps in the professional game there in 1994/95. "We know that if we win it will bring us back to life. We need to win to at least be in the running for the UEFA Cup. As for anything more than that, we'll have to wait and see. This game is about making sure we're still in Europe next year."
The goal is fairly clear, then, but it was equally evident last time out, when two Danny Koevermans strikes condemned OM to a 2-0 defeat in Eindhoven that all but crushed their hopes of UEFA Champions League progress. "We weren't up to our usual standards in that match," countered Zenden, who came on as a substitute for the final eight minutes. "You have to be at your best in the Champions League and I'm sure we will be tomorrow. Our game over there isn't a good reference point for this one."
The 32-year-old considers OM's recent Ligue 1 form a better guide, in fact, having watched from the bench as his colleagues overcame visitors AS Saint-Etienne 3-1 on Saturday. "We've got quite a lot of confidence at the moment," he explained. "We've played well for a few games, even if the results haven't always followed. From what you saw against St-Etienne, we're good enough to win. We dominated, created chances and proved decisive from set-pieces."
Summer signing Hatem Ben Arfa was heavily involved in those, guiding corners on to the heads of Benoît Cheyrou and Taye Taiwo for two of the goals and registering himself from the penalty spot. The 21-year-old has been keeping Zenden out of the side and ought to again on Tuesday, but his senior colleague would love another crack at his old club. "They're kind of like home for me," he said. "I went there when I was 13 and spent four years in the first team. They helped me get a move to [FC] Barcelona and they're very close to my heart."