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News Analysis: Van Gaal's decisions crucial for Netherlands
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  • http://english.dbw.cn   2014-07-07 09:54:48
     

     Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal had a masterplan in mind for the penalty shootout against Costa Rica on Saturday and not for the first time at this World Cup his tactical decisions paid off.

    Despite several chances and hitting the woodwork three times the Netherland were not able to score in regular time against Costa Rica and also after extra time the scoring was still 0-0 in Salvador.

    Just before the end of the extra time Van Gaal came up with a surprise substitution. He replaced goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen by Tim Krul, because he believed Krul would do better in the penalty shootouts.

    It was the first time ever at the World Cup that a goalkeeper came on as a sub solely for the penalty shootouts. Krul proved Van Gaal and goalkeepers coach Frans Hoek were right by saving the penalties of Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana. Because Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt all converted their attempts Krul's last save earned the Netherlands a place in the semi-finals.

    Afterwards Van Gaal admitted he discussed the substitution with Krul, but not with Cillessen.

    "We did not do that on purpose as we didn't want to ruin his preparation and concentration," Van Gaal said. "There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen. But we felt Krul was the better choice here. And he proved that."

    The remarkable substitution was not the only influence Van Gaal had on the performances of the Dutch team in the previous two years. After a disappointing early exit at Euro 2012 Van Gaal took over from Bert van Marwijk. His assignment was to transform the team and he succeeded. Van Gaal chose many players from the Dutch Eredivisie in the past two years and the results were good, with nine wins and one draw in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

    Under guidance of Van Gaal the likes of Cillessen, Stefan de Vrij, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind, Daryl Janmaat, Jonathan de Guzman and Memphis Depay debuted in the Dutch team. He might have given them a chance a bit too early but thanks to that confidence they are where they are now in the semi-finals of the World Cup, although expectations in the Netherlands were extremely low before the tournament.

    During the whole qualifying campaign Van Gaal opted for a 4-3-3 system, but after influential AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman missed the World Cup due to a knee injury he decided to change his system. He thought a more defensive 5-3-2 system would be the most beneficial to his star players Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.

    Van Gaal could not have proven his point more clearly by booking an incredible 5-1 victory over reigning World Champions Spain in the first match of the World Cup in Salvador, with Van Persie and Robben scoring twice and De Vrij also adding a goal. During the second match against Australia (3-2) substitute Memphis Depay showed his value by becoming match winner and against Chile (2-0) substitutes Leroy Fer and Depay once again scored the goals.

    Against Chile Van Gaal also surprised by lining-up forward Dirk Kuyt as left-back, which worked out really well. In the last sixteen match against Mexico (2-1) the versatile Kuyt also started as left-back and even played as right-back and center-forward. Once again Van Gaal showed some wise substitutions, with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring the winning goal from the penalty-spot this time, in the 94th minute.

    Nigel de Jong suffered a groin injury against the Mexicans, but also for the absence of the 29-year-old midfielder he seems to have an answer. Against Costa Rica Van Gaal just opted for another system, 3-4-3, for the first time as starting formation at this World Cup, with Memphis Depay as left-winger.

    Robben, Van Persie and Sneijder are not the only stars of this Dutch team. Coach Louis van Gaal, who takes over at Manchester United after the World Cup, definitely earns credit as well. With Argentina and Lionel Messi coming up in the semi-finals on Wednesday no doubt Van Gaal will come up with something special again. Maybe his genius decisions can even lead the Dutch to winning the World Cup, after losing the finals in 1974, 1978 and 2010.

    Author:    Source: xinhua     Editor: Yang Fan

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