Key Tactical Decisions for the Netherlands in World Cup Clash with Chile
On Monday, the Netherlands and Chile will go head to head to decide who will get first place in Group B.
Finishing first could be of great importance. As things stand now, it might mean avoiding host nation Brazil in the round of 16.
Consequently, both sides will be more than motivated to win, and for the Netherlands, manager Louis van Gaal will be ready to employ every tactical trick in his arsenal.
Against Spain, Van Gaal deviated from his familiar 4-3-3 and used an unusual 5-3-2 formation. It worked perfectly: The Spanish were beaten 5-1.
Against Australia, the Dutch boss once more tried 5-3-2, but after an unproductive first half, he switched back to 4-3-3. Again, Van Gaal's tactical decision worked: Coming back from behind, the Australians were beaten 3-2.
Here, we take a look at the tactical decisions Van Gaal will have to make against Chile.
5-3-2 or 4-3-3?
The most important tactical decision Van Gaal will have to make pertains the formation: Will the manager go for 5-3-2, as he did against Spain, or will he revert to 4-3-3, like he did in the second half against Australia?
Against Spain, Van Gaal's newfound 5-3-2 formation worked perfectly. In part, this had to do with Spain's high defensive line: With fast, marauding wing-backs like Daley Blind and extremely quick and intelligent players such Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, the Spanish stood no chance on the counter.
Against Australia, however, this didn't really work. Aware of the Netherlands' theoretical superiority, the Australian defenders stayed behind more. Counter-attacking wasn't really an option for the Dutch.
With three attackers, however, Oranje had more chances to put pressure on the ball and more opportunity to set up more elaborate attacks. A great example of this was Memphis Depay's winning goal. It was the result of an intelligently constructed attack, not a result of catching the opposition off guard.
But what will work best against Chile?
Nigel De Jong's Partner
The Dutch often like to pride themselves on playing a beautiful style of football, and in that regard, Jordy Clasie is the type of player that suits Oranje perfectly.
In the Netherlands' preparatory friendly against Ecuador, the deep lying playmaker delivered the assist for a beautiful goal scored by Robin van Persie.
During the World Cup, however, Clasie has not been in Van Gaal's first XI. Instead, Jonathan de Guzman received the nod for the matches against Spain and Australia.
On the one hand, it's not very difficult to see why Van Gaal would prefer De Guzman over Clasie. De Guzman is more mobile, better at tackling and, perhaps most importantly, he has Premier League experience.
On the other hand: It's not often you see someone with the passing skills of Clasie.
Against Chile, however, the Netherlands will have to withstand pressure high up the pitch. While Clasie is a fantastic technical player, his short physique and Eredivisie background might not help him against the likes of Arturo Vidal.
Who Will Replace Bruno Martins Indi?
After a rough challenge from Tim Cahill, the Netherlands' first-choice centre-back Bruno Martins Indi suffered a concussion in the match against Australia, as per FourFourTwo. It's likely the defender won't be able to play against Chile.
In Van Gaal's 5-3-2 formation, Martins Indi was a key player. Relying on three centre-backs, the Dutch defence was built around the towering Feyenoord man.
What's more, with Martins Indi on the pitch, it's easier to make tactical switches. This is because Martins Indi has experience playing as a left-back for Feyenoord. Moving Martins Indi to left-back during a match allows Van Gaal to then relocate Daley Blind to midfield, where he often plays for his club Ajax.
Against Chile, Van Gaal will not have that freedom, and this may influence his decision on whether to go for 5-3-2 or 4-3-3.
Who Will Replace Robin Van Persie?
First-choice striker Robin van Persie received yellow cards during the Netherlands' first two group matches, and consequently, he'll be suspended for the match against Chile.
Van Gaal will have to think about Van Persie's replacement. Two options seem the most obvious: Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dynamo Kyiv's Jeremain Lens.
At first glance, Huntelaar seems to be the player closest to Van Persie's abilities. Having played for clubs like Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan, the striker is now one of the most lethal strikers in the German Bundesliga.
But Huntelaar is most effective inside the box. Therefore, his style of play might not suit a 5-3-2 formation. When looking to counter-attack, Lens' pace will probably be more useful.
Should Van Gaal decide to go for 4-3-3, Huntelaar will probably get his chance to step outside of Van Persie's shadow. Should the manager go for 5-3-2, Lens might just receive the nod.