Ruud van Nistelrooij is looking forward to seeing his good friend Giovanni van Bronckhorst again. Both trainers miraculously reached the play-offs of the Champions League on Tuesday, in which they will decide with PSV and Rangers FC respectively who can go to the main tournament of the Champions League.

    PSV seemed to be stranded in the third preliminary round against a much stronger AS Monaco, but the Eindhoven team made it at the last minute. Thanks to a goal by the Mexican Érick Gutiérrez in the 89th minute, PSV managed to drag out an extension. Luuk de Jong, who provided the assist for that goal, made the 3-2 with his head in extra time.

    Van Bronckhorst also had a special evening with the Rangers. After last week’s defeat at the Belgian club Union (2-0), the Scots seemed on their way to elimination. Van Bronckhorst saw his team stunt 3-0 in a full Ibrox Stadium and still make it to the play-offs.

    Admiration

    “I have a very high opinion of Giovanni as a person,” said Van Nistelrooij in the Philips stadium. “Both of our families know each other well. When I see how Giovanni has done at Feyenoord and is now doing it again with the Rangers, I have a lot of admiration for that. Rangers is a fantastic opponent to play against. The atmosphere at Ibrox is great awesome.”

    Van Nistelrooij and Van Bronckhorst know each other, among other things, from their joint periods with the Dutch national team. The former striker and former left defender were both part of the Orange squad at the 2004 and 2008 European Championships and the 2006 World Cup.

    head coach

    The 47-year-old Van Bronckhorst has a somewhat longer period as head coach than the 46-year-old Van Nistelrooij, who opted for the gradual path and moved on to the position of head coach at PSV this season. Van Bronckhorst did the same at Feyenoord, with which he won the national title in 2017. Last year he reached the final of the Europa League with the Rangers.

    Van Nistelrooij has a perfect start at PSV for the time being. The Eindhoven team won the Johan Cruijff Scale from Ajax, started the Eredivisie with a win over FC Emmen and eliminated AS Monaco in the Champions League. It does not matter much to Van Nistelrooij that in the run-up to the double confrontation with the Rangers there is still plenty to improve in terms of football. “If the opponent is better, you have to get it from somewhere else,” he said. “You have to find a way to stay together and use specific qualities in each other. It’s all about character, willpower, mentality and unity.”

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