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Ruud van Nistelrooy • Tactics, PSV v Ajax • Masterclass

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00:15 - Game context
00:50 - The starting XI
06:45 - Out of possession: The mid-block
10:19 - The Johan Cruyff Shield: Success from wide areas
13:10 - In possession: Forced inside
14:42 - Tactical change: Attacking with two 10s
16:34 - “We controlled each other”
18:36 - Penalties: “Don't take it too quickly”

When Ruud van Nistelrooy took charge of PSV in the summer of 2022, he inherited a squad that had lived in the shadow of bitter rivals Ajax for a number of years. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker, who won two league titles as a player with PSV before his high-profile move to Old Trafford in the summer of 2001, had spent the previous season as head coach of the club’s reserve team, Jong PSV. Stepping up to the senior team, however, represented a different challenge.

By the time Van Nistelrooy left the club with one game remaining in the 2022/23 Eredivisie season, he had led PSV to four separate wins over the defending league champions. The first came in his first game in charge, the season-opening Johan Cruyff Shield. Then, after league wins home and away, PSV completed a clean sweep with a penalty-shootout victory in the KNVB Cup.

In this exclusive Masterclass, Van Nistelrooy discusses the specific tactical challenge that faced his team in that cup final. Out of possession, he details the approach that limited opponents well versed in dominating the ball to not a single shot on target across more than 120 minutes. He goes on to explain how Ajax adjusted their defensive approach to counter the success in wide areas that had characterised PSV’s three previous wins that season; and, after his team had fallen behind to an unfortunate first-half own goal from Jarrad Branthwaite, how his second-half changes – including a shift to play with two number 10s – worked to change the focus of PSV’s attacks and create the equaliser that took the game to extra-time.

Finally, Van Nistelrooy speaks about the unique psychological challenge of penalties, the key messages he gave his players ahead of the shootout, and how his loyalty to cup goalkeeper Joël Drommel proved justified.

It’s a fascinating Masterclass delivered by a coach who, after a stellar playing career, achieved much in his first season as a head coach. We hope you enjoy it!

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