Football: PSV may have title within reach

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The Independent Online
Sunday's meeting between Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven could be the match which decides the destination of the Dutch League championship, with Ajax, 26 times champions and four-times European Cup winners, for once only among the also-rans in the Netherlands.

PSV and Feyenoord, who have each won the Dutch title 13 times, are first and second in the standings, with PSV three points ahead. Ajax are down in fifth place, another 15 points adrift.

In recent times, PSV have fared better in the league, winning the championship four times in the last 10 years, compared with Feyenoord's single success in 1993. This season, PSV have again played the better football, particularly in big games, although both sides have failed to make an impact in Europe.

Earlier in the season, PSV beat Feyenoord with a club record 7-2 victory. Recent history in Rotterdam, however, favours Feyenoord, who have not lost at home to PSV in 10 years.

Feyenoord's home form is their traditional strength. Their impressive 50,000 capacity stadium is generally full of noisy, passionate fans - something PSV have never had.

PSV are often considered to be a soulless, clean-cut businesslike club, which is an image that has resulted largely from its long association with the electronics company Philips.

The match lacks the passion of the traditional Dutch "classic" meeting of Ajax and Feyenoord, but is also a safer occasion.

A rising trend of hooliganism at Dutch games in recent months has caused the mayor of Rotterdam to move the game from the evening to an afternoon kick-off.

Police are hoping that nothing happens on the pitch to incite violence in the stands - unlike a bizarre incident when the two teams met in the late 1970s.

On that occasion, Bertus Quaars of PSV was sent off for head-butting a linesman. It later transpired the linesman had butted Quaars.