Monday 23 October 2017

Van Gaal ready to name Holland squad for Brazil after week-long camp

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal (C) talks with his players during a training session in Lagos, Portugal.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal (C) talks with his players during a training session in Lagos, Portugal.

DUTCH coach Louis van Gaal already knows almost exactly what squad he will bring to Brazil following a week-long training camp in Portugal.

"We've created a top sporting environment because we know our players have to be in the best possible condition," he said in Lagos today after a week of intensive physical and tactical work.

"The players showed that they are top sportsmen and gave everything. Every player endeavoured to give of his best.

"I've seen the first signs of a good team spirit developing. I can see it in the way my players communicate with each other," he told a media conference relayed by Dutch NOS television.

That is just as well for the Dutch have a long history of falling out with each other and shooting themselves in the foot in past major tournaments.

"Everyone feels we are coming closer together as a group.

"I can see it in the reactions of my players. We are on the same wavelength. This has been good to experience and it could lead to something positive (in Brazil)" he added, no doubt picking his words for maximum effect knowing what has gone on in the past.

Van Gaal said he was still not certain of his final squad choice but knew the identity of 20 of the 23 who will travel to Brazil.

He has chosen a preliminary squad of 30 and will watch four of them in action for the Dutch under-23 side against Scotland on Wednesday in a European Championship qualifier.

"I'll make my final choice after this game but I'm not struggling with any dilemmas," he said.

Van Gaal singled Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder as his two key players for Brazil.

"There are few players who look after their body in the way that Robben does. The way he does everything, starting with his warm-ups, I find it all fantastic."

Asked which player's fitness and conditioning had surprised him most, he said Sneijder, who he had dropped during last year's qualifying campaign for being out of shape.

"He arrived at this training camp in top, top condition. I was very happy with that. It comes from the attitude of the players and his willingness to work on himself."

It had been planned the final 23 would be announced on June 2, on the deadline imposed by FIFA, but Van Gaal suggested an earlier announcement might be made.

"In principle the team I'll play against Ghana will be the starting eleven for the World Cup," he said of their next warm-up match in Rotterdam on Saturday.

The Dutch also host Wales in Amsterdam on June 4 before departing for Brazil, where they share a group with world champions Spain, Chile and Australia.

They leave their Portuguese training camp tomorrow and will have time off before assembling again in Rotterdam on Thursday.


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