Atletico Madrid can be an example for Netherlands, says Van Gaal

The 62-year-old believes his team can learn lessons from the Liga champions and revealed he will field his World Cup starting XI against Ghana on Saturday

Louis van Gaal believes Atletico Madrid can be an example to the Netherlands in this summer’s World Cup.

Diego Simeone’s side won the Spanish league on the final day of the season and narrowly lost out in the Champions League final, leading until a Sergio Ramos header deep into injury time ensured the tie went into extra-time, with Real Madrid going on to win 4-1.

But Van Gaal believes his team can learn from the Spaniards with their defensive solidity, pressing game and fighting spirit but insisted his own set-up at corners would prevent a goal like Ramos’ equaliser.

“I think Atletico can be an example for Netherlands,” he told reporters.

“We train with a four against four game for our build up play and that’s always a very aggressive way to train. When we were watching the Champions League final, I told my players: do you understand why we train four on four? I want players to be aggressive in our pressure game.

We also have a player on the line during corners. We always discuss this with our goalkeeper and the goalkeeper coach.”

Netherlands are expected to line up in a 5-3-2 system in the World Cup, with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie looking likely to make up the front two, and Van Gaal believes the duo can make a good partnership.

Manchester United’s new boss said: “I think Robben and Van Persie can be very good together. But we still have to see how they do it. We’ve done it a few times during this week, but the No.10 is also important in our attack.

“I have a good feeling about it. I’m satisfied about the way they play together. I really want to see how our opponents play against us. I don’t think they’ll defend man-on-man against Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder. That’s why our new system is very hard to defend.”

The 62-year-old added he has been pleasantly surprised by Wesley Sneijder in training. 

Wesley Sneijder is a positive surprise for me. He makes a very good impression on me and looks very fit,” continued Van Gaal.

“I think that’s due to the player himself. I read that it was the work of the Dutch national tem manager, but I always think that the player does that to himself.

“If he gets in form, he can be a very important player for us. I saw a difference between the Sneijder from December and January and the Sneijder from last week.

“The chance that he will play gets bigger when I see how fit he is at the moment.”

The coach then added he knows the vast majority of names that will make up his final squad for the tournament in Brazil, adding he will reveal the 23-man squad later this week.

“I know 20 players of my definite squad. It depends a bit on the match of Netherlands U21 v Scotland on Wednesday. We will evaluate this match and make our decision partly based on the players in that team.

“Before the match vs Ghana on Saturday I will announce my 23-man squad. On June 2 I have to give my list to the Fifa, but I will make my decision earlier. Our starting XI for during the World Cup will play against Ghana.”

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