Amsterdam: The Netherlands will take a risk by adopting an old school 5-3-2 system at next month’s World Cup in Brazil, coach Louis van Gaal said on Tuesday.
Van Gaal, however, refused to name his provisional 30-man squad till later because he wanted to personally inform those who had not been selected. The coach said he would use his 5-3-2 strategy partly due to the absence of AS Roma’s defensive midfielder Kevin Strootman, who will miss out on the finals after suffering a serious knee injury in March.
Strootman was one of three players who had been guaranteed a place in the squad — the others being Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. “I have three reasons to change the system. The injury to Strootman, the fact we don’t have enough quality left-backs and because I want to play with a minimum of three creative players at the World Cup,” he told reporters at the team’s Hoenderloo training camp.
“It is a system in which the players can show their strength. It is old school Dutch style. I had a word with my captains Van Persie and Robben about it first and they were both enthusiastic.”
Van Gaal said it was a gamble because the players would have little time to practice the system ahead of their Group B fixtures with holders Spain, Chile and Australia. “We could always go back to 4-3-3, that’s not too difficult, even during a match,” he added.
Van Gaal’s plans to change to 5-3-2 were revealed last week by defender Joel Veltman.
“He said it in all innocence and it’s no bother,” said the coach on Tuesday. “In any case everyone would have been able to see it when we play Ecuador in our friendly so it really doesn’t matter.”
The Dutch meet Ecuador in Amsterdam on Saturday in the first of three planned warm-up internationals. Ghana and Wales are their other pre-World Cup opponents.
Van Gaal, who is expected to take over at manager-less Manchester United at the end of the World Cup, said he used the last week of training with Dutch-based players in order to work on defensive organisation. “I was really pleased to have this opportunity because the Dutch league finished earlier,” he explained. “Most of our defenders play in the local league so it was most advantageous.”