Van Gaal learns from Germany and Argentina's losses at the World Cup
The surprising losses of Germany and Argentina at the World Cup against Japan and Saudi Arabia, respectively (Both 2-1), have made Louis van Gaal and the Netherlands side sharper. According to the Oranje manager in his pre-match press conference for the match against Ecuador on Thursday.
"That they lose, that says something," the manager said at the Qatar National Convention Center in Doha. "They both created many chances before halftime but didn't finish them. That they give it away in the second half may have something to do with team discipline. Our team discipline goes on to minute 90. That is what I speak about with the boys, how important that is."
Van Gaal admitted that he had changed his mind about who the Netherland's toughest opponent will be in the group stage. Despite saying Senegal would be the toughest opponent, van Gaal now thinks Ecuador will be.
"They are more organized than Senegal," claimed the manager. "And Ecuador's players are smarter. That makes them a harder opponent than Senegal".
The 71-year-old refused to answer whether Memphis Depay would start or come on in the second half. The striker has been injured for two months and was brought on for 30 minutes in the first group game against Qatar. In typical van Gaal fashion, he also did not answer whether Matthijs de Ligt or Jurrien Timber would get the nod at centre-back. De Ligt started the first game, but van Gaal admitted that Timber may have done better in that position after the match.
The Netherlands can be the first team to qualify for the knockout round of the World Cup on Friday. Oranje would need to beat Ecuador and would also need Qatar to fail to win in the other fixture in the group.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times