How did they qualify?
The Dutch side make their first appearance among the European elite in six years after cruising to their first Eredivisie title since 2008 last season. PSV were a class apart from their compatriots in 2014/15, finishing 17 points ahead of their traditional domestic rivals Ajax; they won 29 of their 34 league games and scored 92 goals in the process. This summer, however, Eindhoven have been a victim of their own success, as they have seen key players such as Memphis Depay and Giorginio Wijnaldum depart the club for pastures new.
Record in Europe:
PSV have one European Cup to their name, which they won in 1988 under the management of Guus Hiddink. Since then, their best run in the competition came in 2004/05, when they reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by AC Milan. In their last campaign in the Champions League seven seasons ago they came bottom of a group containing Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Marseille, and in the time since then their best European run saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League in 2010/11.
Who’s the boss?
Former player and Dutch international legend Phillip Cocu is the man in charge at the Philips Stadion. The 44-year–old had two spells as an Eindhoven player before moving into the dugout, initially as a caretaker in 2012 before stepping up to the top job in 2013. He already had coaching experience from his time as assistant coach in the Dutch national team and a role in PSV’s youth set-up, and it was during his spell as caretaker in 2012 that Memphis Depay was promoted to the first team. Leading the club to a long-awaited Eredivisie title cemented his legendary status at PSV.
How they’ll play:
Cocu has stressed the importance of developing young players and insists to his players that enjoyment is key. This philosophy means the Dutch side are easy on the eye and like to attack with pace, with the full-backs pivotal in their 4-3-3 system. Luuk de Jong said in the aftermath of their Europa League win over Panathinaikos last season that “we are all about playing with joy. It’s great to be a striker in a team like this.” Whilst they will not be as free-flowing as last season due to the loss of several key players, the style of play will remain broadly similar, meaning United fans should see goals in their two matches with Cocu’s side.
In a summer that has seen Memphis Depay depart the club for £30 million, 24-year old Luciano Narsingh could be the next PSV wing wizard to attract a big fee. The Holland international came through the ranks at Heerenveen before being signed for PSV by Dick Advocaat in 2012. Since moving to Eindhoven he has gone from strength to strength, and scored eight goals in all competitions last season as well as setting up many more for Depay and striker Luuk de Jong, who has recovered from a nightmare loan spell at Newcastle to become the focal point of PSV’s attack.