The luck of the draw is often an unforgiving mistress; PSV and Basel is a meeting between two established, strong European sides, and this could easily have been a group stage match once the Champions League gets underway properly, potentially even a last 16 game. But one of them won’t make it, getting eliminated before August. This is PSV’s first competitive fixture of the 2019-20 season, while Basel had something of a head start, kicking off their Swiss league campaign with a 4-1 win over Sion last Friday.
Mark Van Bommel will have been ruing his luck in his debut managerial campaign last season. His PSV side were brilliant, amassing 83 points but falling three short of a once-in-a-generation side like Ajax, who featured the likes of future superstars like Frenkie De Jong and Mathijs De Ligt, while PSV actually beat the Champions League semi-finalists 3-0. Since then, it’s been a mixed record in friendlies – losing to Nice and Wolfsburg, while they’ll have to contend with losing last season’s Eredivisie top scorer Luuk de Jong (34 goals) to Sevilla.
Basel also finished as runners-up in their domestic league last season, hence their inclusion at this point in qualifying. But then finished a massive 20 points behind runaway leaders Young Boys. Basel actually finished the season quite strongly, losing just one of their last 20 domestic fixtures. They’ve started this season by putting down a marker, though; they beat Sion 4-1 on Friday and looked like a strong side in the process.
PSV’s last friendly, a 2-0 defeat to Wolfsburg last week, gave us perhaps the clearest indication of how Van Bommel is planning to approach this one. Portuguese midfielder Bruma, who was signed from RB Leipzig this summer, is expected to play a major role this season. Meanwhile, young striker Donyell Malen, 20, scored ten goals last season and could be expected to step up further going forward in the absence of De Jong.
Basel performed so well in their win over Sion last week that coach Marcelo Koller will be encouraged and see no reason to tinker ahead of this all-important tie. Striker Albian Ateji got on the scoresheet and could feature once again alongside fellow scorers Valentin Stocker and Luca Zuffi. Taulant Xhaka could return to the starting line-up after only appearing from the bench on the last occasion.
Given how early it is in both side’s campaigns, this is a difficult one to call, but based on what the two sides showed last season, it’s understandable that the hosts are backed by the bookies. Bet365 offer odds of 4/7 for PSV to win, which is fair enough after they won 16, drew one, lost none at the Philips Stadion in the Eredivisie last season. Of PSV’s last four friendlies, only one featured goals at both ends, so odds of 8/11 for both teams NOT to score is worth considering. Van Bommel has his team well-drilled and they should be in control throughout; 7/5 for them to win at half-time and full-time is another strong choice.