Dirk Kuyt's Role and the Key Selection Issues for Netherlands vs. Argentina
On Wednesday, Louis van Gaal's Netherlands will take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in the semi-final of the World Cup in Brazil.
Van Gaal, known for being a tactician and a tinkerer, will likely make some tactical switches ahead of the match, although his tried-and-tested 5-3-2 formation will probably serve as a template.
Here, we take a look at three selection decisions Van Gaal will have to make ahead of Wednesday's clash with Argentina.
There is some uncertainty about the fitness of Ron Vlaar, and as was reported by Agence France-Presse, the Aston Villa man could miss his team's semi-final effort against Argentina.
Should that be the case, then Van Gaal will have to look for another centre-back, and he could go for Feyenoord's Terence Kongolo or Ajax's Joel Veltman.
But so far, Van Gaal hasn't used these players, and he might feel they're not ready to perform on football's biggest stage.
In that regard, it seems more likely Van Gaal will move Daley Blind—who usually plays as a left-back or a defensive midfielder—to the centre of defence.
This would, of course, free up the left-back position, but luckily, a certain versatile and experienced player is still at Van Gaal's disposal...
In the Netherlands' group-stage match against Chile, Dirk Kuyt started as a left-back. Asked to keep a tight lock on Oranje's left-flank, the former Liverpool man fulfilled his duty impressively.
Later, Kuyt was asked to play as a right-back, and later still as an extra striker. Constantly showing discipline and an excellent work ethic, Kuyt has been an excellent addition to the team.
Against Argentina, Kuyt could once again play as a left-back. But since Van Gaal seems unsure of regular right-backs Daryl Janmaat and Paul Verhaegh, he could also be asked to play on the opposite flank.
There is, however, another position that might demand priority...
Nigel De Jong Replacement?
During the group stage, Nigel de Jong seemed like an invaluable part of the Netherlands' midfield, constantly winning possession and bossing the midfield.
But during the Netherlands' round-of-16 effort against Mexico, De Jong had to be substituted after suffering an injury. After the match, it was announced he would likely miss the rest of the World Cup.
Against Costa Rica, in the quarter-final, Van Gaal opted not to replace De Jong, adding another attacker in the form of Memphis Depay instead.
But against Argentina, who will have a certain Lionel Messi walking around De Jong's area, it seems impossible not to play a holding midfielder.
Daley Blind, who often plays as a defensive midfielder for his club Ajax, might be called upon, but there is also a chance Van Gaal will look at the aforementioned Kuyt.
Kuyt, who seems capable of playing in just about any position on the pitch, would surely add some defensive solidity to the Netherlands' midfield.
If there's one man capable and willing of running after Messi for a whole match, it might just be the hard-working Kuyt.
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