PORTO ALEGRE, June 18: Dutch coach Louis van Gaal has told his players to keep their feet on the ground as they prepare to face unfancied Australia on Wednesday after their 5-1 thrashing of world champions Spain.
The Netherlands, spearheaded by two goals apiece from captain Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, roared back from a goal behind to gain revenge for their defeat in the 2010 final in emphatic fashion.
And Van Gaal was keen to stress the impact made by Van Persie, Robben and Wesley Sneijder off the field too as they have experienced the disappointment of not winning a major tournament despite often making a flying start.
“You win the World Cup by winning the final,” said the newly appointed Manchester United manager.
“This is just the first step. We have to keep our feet on the ground, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. We need to prove our capability to win over Australia, which would be that easy.
“I felt the team reacted very well, especially the older players. The more seasoned players know what is going on and they immediately warned the team this was simply one victory and that we haven’t earned anything.
“We haven’t even made it to the next round yet so anything can happen and I’m very glad to see this. That means a coach doesn’t have to say much more,” added Van Gaal, who haa enjoyed a happier time in his second spell as national coach after being sacked when they failed to qualify for the 2002 finals.
Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 formation with Robben in an usual central striking role worked to perfection against Spain, but the former Barca boss refused to commit to the same system for what is likely to be a very different test against a more defensively minded Aussie side.
“If Australia is going to play a very defensive match then 4-3-3 will allow us to put more pressure on them up front.
“However, that doesn’t always yield the desired results. This is why this is such a difficult question for me. I know the answer and so do the players. Lets take a look at the lineup tomorrow.”
Van Gaal confirmed that he will have a fully-fit squad to choose from as Ron Vlaar has overcome a slight injury problem.
Victory for the Netherlands in Porto Alegre will almost certainly guarantee their place in the last 16 due to their already far superior goal difference with Spain and Chile set to meet in the group’s other game later on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro.