The 62-year-old believes Mexico will be able to deal with the humidity and heat in Fortaleza better than his own team and is frustrated that the pitch is not in good condition
By Robin Bairner at Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Louis van Gaal believes the heat and humidity in Fortaleza will hinder his Netherlands side more than it will Mexico in their World Cup second round match.
Many players have complained about the temperatures in Brazil throughout the tournament and some games have required water breaks during each half.
As well as the pitch not being in great condition, Van Gaal is worried that the conditions will affect his team on Sunday, saying the North Americans will adjust easier than his own players.
“It’s OK,” he told a press conference. “I was here a year ago, and it was hotter then, but even so the humidity is so high that it will affect the match.
“That’s why we tried to get the players to be as fit as possible. I’m quite conscious that it will also affect the Mexicans, but they’re used to it much more than [Netherlands] are.
“With Ajax, I played Mexico in Mexico City, and our players could hardly keep up for half the match.
“The pitch is the most important material for a football player. I just checked the pitch and it’s not that good.”
The coach admitted Miguel Herrera’s team will be a difficult opponent for his side, insisting they are better than his side’s previous opponents Chile, before praising their coach.
“I think Mexico are comparable to Chile. If you look at the entire Mexico team, I would say they’re better. They almost play identically.
“They play according to their qualities and their skill. Mexico are a bit more eager, and you see this – it’s part and parcel of every player in their team, which is a wonderful thing to see.
“I expect a match like against Chile. There’s not such a big difference between the way they play. The Chilean team has two outstanding players, Mexico not so much, perhaps, but that’s why they’re a better team.
“I do think Mexico can grow even further – I would say every team can grow and develop further. It’s my feeling that the Mexican players are very open to what their coach has to say.
“I like it if a coach enjoys himself and is passionate. I saw an interview with him and he even says sensible things, so what more could you want.”
Van Gaal says Leroy Fer is the only injured player in the team, but that Bruno Martins Indi, who suffered a concussion in the game against Australia, remains a worry.
“Apart from Leroy, everyone is fit.”
“[The situation with Martins Indi is] slightly difficult because you don’t know when an injury [of this type] is over and done with. He trained yesterday but that doesn’t mean he’s ready for these extreme conditions. He could play for 20 minutes.”
Having finished top of their group with wins over Spain, Chile and Australia, Van Gaal praised his players and says there is a great atmosphere in the camp.
“Well, I don’t think it would be possible [to play so well] without excellent harmony between players and staff. We have this harmony, and we create this harmony.
“Both players and staff are convinced they need to progress as far as possible, and this has resulted in what we’ve been able to show the world.
“It’s incredible that we have played a new system after only three weeks. We have players from foreign competitions, and we only get them one or two weeks prior to the world championship.”