Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands have arrived in their pre-tournament training base ahead of next month’s FIFA World Cup. However, key man Arjen Robben has yet to join up with the team.
How will the Netherlands fare against Spain?
Oranje began their World Cup preparations with a 1-1 draw against Ecuador at the weekend in Amsterdam and are now counting down the days until their June 13 kick-off against current holders Spain.
Robben, who helped Bayern Munich complete a domestic double by scoring the crucial first goal in Saturday’s German Cup final against Dortmund, has been afforded a few days rest by his manager and is set to join the squad on Thursday.
As per Mark Gleeson of Reuters, “a group of 25 Dutch players headed to the Algarve where they will start work under coach Louis van Gaal.” Included amongst that squad was captain Robin van Persie, who van Gaal will link up with at Manchester United next term after recently being announced as the permanent successor to David Moyes.
Images of Oranje’s first session in Portugal emerged on Twitter, via @Football_oranje:
Louis van Gaal today. pic.twitter.com/3xpBZ25L32— Dutch Football (@football_oranje) May 20, 2014
The Netherlands, who are experimenting with a new 5-3-2 formation, in which Robben is expected to join Van Persie in attack, head back to Rotterdam for a friendly against Ghana on May 31 before taking on Wales in Amsterdam just four days later. Van Gaal’s men then leave for Brazil as they take on Spain in Salvador.
Preparations for the World Cup have been somewhat overshadowed by Van Gaal’s personal developments at Old Trafford, but the focus is now fully on matters Oranje as they try to go one step further than they did in South Africa four years ago.
In addition to Spain, Netherlands will face Australia and Chile in an extremely difficult Group B.