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Squad rotation in the Eredivisie: PSV and Ajax take a different approach

19 November 2018
With PSV coming in second in the rankings of national performances of European clubs (12 matches, 36 points), only outranked by Paris Saint Germain (13 matches, 39 points), the question arises where their success comes from. The defending champions keep on winning in the Eredivisie, while the next round in the UEFA Champions League is already out of sight after just four matches. What drives the performance of PSV in their national league? Could “Never change a winning team” be the key to success? Remiqz analyses the developments in the Eredivisie so far.

After twelve match rounds, the club from Eindhoven has a five-point lead over rivals Ajax. The difference is partly caused by the distinct philosophies of Erik ten Hag and Mark van Bommel. The data, as analysed by Remiqz, tells us that from the start of the season, PSV changed their starting eleven only six times. This means that only six players did not start a match while they were in the starting eleven a week before. In this statistic, PSV is by far the club with the least amount of cumulative line-up changes (followed by AZ with eleven cumulative changes in their line-up). Mark van Bommel does not rotate between players, which has led to a very well-coordinated team that is able to dominate most league matches. However, whether or not PSV is burning up some of its key players remains to be seen.

Ajax clearly has a different view on the matter of making changes in the starting eleven. With 21 cumulative changes, Ajax made the most changes in their line-up, compared to the week before. It seems that Erik ten Hag is able to rest some of his key players in the Eredivisie, which also has a positive effect on their performances in the UEFA Champions League: after four match rounds, Ajax has a decent chance to qualify for the Last 16. The Amsterdam based club will be hoping for some kind of drop in the performance of PSV due to their lack of squad rotation.

Feyenoord, occupying third place in the Dutch national league, has made sixteen changes so far. In the lower ranks of the Eredivisie, a lot more changes are generally made in the starting eleven. NAC Breda and De Graafschap, the current number seventeen and eighteen in the league table, have respectively made nineteen and eighteen changes in their line-ups up to this point. However, the question remains whether these clubs are underperforming because of these changes in their line-ups or do they make these changes because of the disappointing results?

It is clear that PSV has twelve or thirteen players worthy of playing in the starting eleven, and they do well indeed. However, with Ajax having such a strong bench that they can change the line-up without really weakening the team, it will be interesting to see what happens in the Eredivisie when injuries and suspensions try to take PSV down from their cloud nine.