Runaway Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven will face Borussia Dortmund in their first UEFA Champions League knockout match in eight seasons on Tuesday night at the Philips Stadion.

PSV Eindhoven are making only their fifth appearance at the UEFA Champions League knockout stage and only their second in 17 seasons as they look to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2006/07 when they take on Borussia Dortmund. The visitors, on the other hand, have become a Round of 16 regulars in recent years and are in the stage for the ninth time overall and the fifth in the past six seasons.

PSV Eindhoven find themselves in the midst of a historic campaign in their bid to regain the Eredivisie title for the first time since 2018, having enjoyed an unbeaten start spanning 22 games thus far to build a healthy lead. The hosts are also having a remarkable campaign in Europe, with a 100% win record in the league and progression from a tricky Champions League group.

Despite their fine form, Peter Bosz’s side know they will need a win in the first leg at home to have hopes of quarter-final qualification. Borussia Dortmund will be strong opponents for PSV Eindhoven, though. They have impressed in continental action again this term, topping a group including PSG, AC Milan, and Newcastle United.

Much has been said and written about Dortmund’s struggles in the Bundesliga this season, with head coach Edin Terzic especially coming under pressure for the team’s underwhelming performances. There were calls for Terzic to be fired after BVB’s terrible first half of the season. But those in control opted to maintain him as head coach.

The Black and Yellows have enjoyed a much-improved start to 2024, with four wins and a draw from their opening five games, although their title hopes seem far-fetched at this point in time. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams and tries to predict the tactics they could put to use.

Team News & Tactics

PSV Eindhoven

PSV Eindhoven have bolstered their Champions League squad by adding Richard Ledezma, Jaden De Guzman, and CJ Egan-Riley since the group stage. Although Southampton loanee Armel Bella-Kotchap recently made his return to training from a shoulder injury, the defender is not yet fit to start for the first time since October.

Guus Til is also unavailable, so Jerdy Schouten is expected to start alongside Joey Veerman in the middle of the park. Tactically, Peter Bosz will set his side up in a familiar 4-3-3 hybrid formation on Tuesday evening.

Ricardo Pepi will bid to come into the front line, though, likely battling with the in-demand Johan Bakayoko and Hirving Lozano to feature in support of talismanic front man Luuk de Jong, who has notched up 27 goals in 34 appearances across all competitions so far this term.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Benitez; Teze, Boscagli, Ramalho, Dest; Saibari, Schouten, Veerman; Bakayoko, De Jong, Lozano

Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund bolstered their Champions League squad by registering English duo Jadon Sancho and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens, as well as Dutch full-back Ian Maatsen. However, Ramy Bensebaini (illness), Karim Adeyemi (muscular), and Felix Nmecha (hip) all remain on the sidelines.

Ivorian striker Sebastien Haller picked up an ankle injury while leading his nation to the recent Africa Cup of Nations triumph, so he is also a major doubt. Enjoying an excellent season so far, Gregor Kobel will line up in goal for Borussia Dortmund against PSV.

Julian Ryerson slotted in at right back seamlessly in the last two games after making his long-awaited return from injury. The Norwegian international will start in that role again on Saturday, with the in-form Ian Maatsen set to feature on the opposite flank. Niklas Sule and Nico Schlotterbeck look set to continue their partnership at centre-back.

Emre Can will start in defensive midfield, with Marcel Sabitzer set to partner him. Julian Brandt could be in contention for a return to the starting XI after recovering from his illness. Marco Reus could also keep his spot in the team, with Jadon Sancho and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens options off the bench.

Donyell Malen and Niclas Fullkrug have formed a strong partnership up front since the turn of the year. And they will likely start attacking once again for Borussia Dortmund against PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday night.

Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Kobel; Ryerson, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Maatsen; Sabitzer, Can, Brandt; Reus, Malen; Fullkrug

Key Stats

  • PSV Eindhoven and Borussia Dortmund haven’t faced each other in Europe since the 2002-03 UEFA Champions League first group phase; Dortmund won 3-1 at the Philips Stadion before a 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park.
  • This is PSV’s first UEFA Champions League knockout game against a German side, losing eight of 12 games against German teams in the group stages (W3 D1).
  • Borussia Dortmund have lost eight of their last nine away games in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (W1).
  • Borussia Dortmund have won their last two UEFA Champions League away games, beating Newcastle United 1-0 and AC Milan 3-1 in the group stage.
  • Borussia Dortmund avoided defeat in their last five Champions League games, beating Newcastle twice and drawing with PSG in that run.

Player to Watch

Johan Bakayoko

Embed from Getty Images

It is hard to turn down the Premier League. But in the summer of 2023, Johan Bakayoko bet on himself, turning down both Burnley and Brentford to remain at PSV Eindhoven, aiming to further develop his game before an eventual big-money move in the future.

Now, in hindsight, it was a brilliant idea. Bakayoko has filled the void left by the departures of Cody Gakpo and Noni Madueke and has cemented his place on the right wing, from where he has caused some real damage to the opposition defences.

The explosive 20-year-old speedster, who has scored six goals and assisted 13 times in all competitions this season, was the only player in this season’s UCL group stage to create 15+ open play chances and complete 15+ dribbles. He will be a dynamic threat in PSV’s attack, both in terms of whipping a mean in-swinging cross in from the right and dribbling inside and unleashing one on goal.


PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund won both matches against Newcastle United and also won at AC Milan, and they should use their wealth of experience to come away from Eindhoven with a positive result.

However, Borussia Dortmund look unlikely to manage a win against PSV Eindhoven, who have been fantastic at home for some time now, going undefeated in their previous 30 home games and winning 26 of them, implying they should have enough to contain a side with a far more European pedigree on Tuesday night.

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