PSV has been unstoppable in the Eredivisie this season. Not only have they conceded just six goals and scored a whopping 56 this season, but they’ve won all 16 of their league games, putting them ten points ahead of second-placed Feyenoord.

Not only are they the most successful team in the Netherlands this year, but they’re also the most exciting. PSV’s front line of Luuk de Jong, Johan Bakayoko, and USMNT star Malik Tillman has stunned opposing defenses. Explosive playmakers like Joey Veerman and Olivier Boscagli have had huge impacts that do not appear on the scoresheet. Head coach Peter Bosz has pioneered new tactics that have led PSV to the forefront of the league.

It’s not like their wins are limited to inside the Eredivisie. PSV advanced to the knockout rounds of the Champions League in December and can count themselves as a scary sleeper team come February when they play Dortmund in the round of 16.

After years of playing second fiddle to clubs like Ajax and Feyenoord, this year is finally PSV’s year.

What has changed?

PSV made a lot of big moves over the summer transfer window. Despite losing Ibrahim Sangaré to Forest and Xavi Simons to PSG, the Eindhoven side inked Hirving Lozano and Noa Lang to permanent deals while arranging loans for Tillman, Sergiño Dest, and Armel Bella-Kotchap. PSV also signed Bosz to a three-year deal, replacing Ruud van Nistelrooy as manager.

Their competitors weakened. Feyenoord lost star player Orkun Kökçü to Benfica and never was able to replace him. Ajax sold Mohammed Kudus, Edson Alvarez, Calvin Bassey, and Jurrien Timber, but weren’t able to replace them with similar talents. Out of the Netherlands’ “Big Three”, PSV was the only team to have a good transfer window.

Mismanagement within Ajax’s leadership brought Ajax towards the basement of Eredivisie giving them one of their worst-ever starts in club history. Although PSV has not won a league title since 2018, a mix of excellent planning and lucky circumstances has brought them to the forefront of the league.

Bosz, Cruyff, and goals

To say PSV won all of their league games just through coincidence is an understatement of the genius behind PSV’s playstyle. PSV manager Peter Bosz has taken inspiration from Dutch legend Johan Cruyff to craft a uniquely modern playstyle.

With PSV, Bosz orders his team to line up in a shape similar to a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1. Bosz employs a big man up top in Luuk de Jong and two inverted wingers in Tillman and Bakayoko, or wingers that look to cut inside rather than play near the byline. PSV plays with a deep-lying playmaker in Joey Veerman, someone who can play accurate long balls while helping to anchor the defense. Players like Guus Til and Ismael Saibari serve as prototypical central midfielders, contributing both on defense and offense.

The two wingbacks (Sergiño Dest and Jordan Teze) get high and wide to add another part to the attack. The two solid center-backs, Jerdy Schouten and Olivier Boscagli, help play out from the back.

Bosz also allows for freedom of movement around the pitch. Nothing is rigid when it comes to his style of management. He presses opponents often and intensely. In doing so, he makes use of overlaps and underlaps from his wingbacks. He also relies on possession to squeeze the life out of the other team.

Quality from his young players also helps. Bakayoko is one of the most exciting young wingers in the world, while Veerman, Lang, and Dest could be key players on title-winning teams in the future.

The result of all these factors has been a stunning number of goals and utter dominance from this PSV side. Five goals against Rangers. Another five against Ajax. Six against Heracles. It’s fun to be a PSV fan at the moment.

PSV’s dominant defense has also stymied several defenses. They’ve kept 12 clean sheets throughout the season and have only conceded over three goals just once this season. Although their high possession rate helps, PSV’s fluidity has bailed them out of sticky situations more than once.

Can they keep it up?

Emotions are running high in Eindhoven as the PSV faithful flock to Philips Stadium each matchday to watch their beloved team destroy their opponents. PSV is enjoying a massive amount of success, unlike anything we’ve seen from this squad in recent years. Not only are they massive favorites to claim their 25th-ever Eredivisie title, but they also have a promising Champions League knockout round against Dortmund in February.

Despite that, there are more obstacles to face, even from teams they won’t even play. Clubs like Liverpool and Spurs are targeting Bakayoko in the winter transfer window. LA Galaxy is pursuing Hirving Lozano. If the team loses too many of their stars in free agency, then PSV’s exciting, improbable run could turn to ashes.

But there’s more good than bad. Not only is PSV winning over fans across the Netherlands, but they are a sleeper team to forge a deep run into the Champions League. PSV should be a name worth watching as the Champions League restarts in February.

PHOTO: IMAGO / Pro Shots.