BRASÍLIA (AFP) – After deep initial scepticism, Dutch coach Louis van Gaal goes into Saturday’s third place play-off determined to down hosts Brazil and end the World Cup on a high note.
His last match before taking over at Manchester United sees van Gaal’s Netherlands, beaten on penalties by Argentina in the semi-final, facing a Brazil side dismantled on Tuesday by Germany in a 7-1 rout.
After Wednesday’s game in Sao Paulo van Gaal lashed out at the necessity of a play-off.
“I think this match should never be played,” van Gaal told reporters. “I’ve been saying this for 10 years. But we’ll just have to play this match.
“It’s unfair also because we have one less day to recover, so that’s not fair play. But the worst thing is that chances are you lose twice in a row.”
Forty-eight hours later and the 62-year-old was singing from a very different hymn sheet.
“We are going to do everything to finish third,” he told the pre-match press conference in Brasilia.
“We want to leave the World Cup unbeaten, something a Dutch side has never achieved.”
Van Gaal, who starts his new job at Old Trafford on August 12 reflected on the different paths Saturday’s protagoniats had taken to ‘the loser’s final’.
“It’s exasperating, it’s better to lose 7-1 than that (0-0 after extra time, 4-2 on penalties).
“To be deprived of the final by a penalty shoot-out without ever having been beaten, it’s the worst thing that can happen.
“What I take from this semi-final is that we didn’t lose, that’s hard.
“We went so close but the dream has disappeared in just a few weeks for this superb side that we put together.”
He suggested that Brazil will benefit from being the “fresher” side in the Brazilian capital.
“They started their World Cup earlier than us and their semi-final was 24 hours before ours.
“They are fresher. These are the facts, (Luiz Felipe) Scolari (Brazil coach) can think what he likes, it’s an advantage for him.”
Norwich midifelder Leroy Fer is the only member of his squad unfit to play, van Gaal disclosed.
“The others are available,” he said.
“I’ll use the players I think are mentally the strongest. The mind is stronger than the body.”
Holland, beaten finalists in 2010, created global headlines from the off in Brazil, thrashing defending champions Spain 5-1.
They went on to beat Australia anf Chile to top their group. In the knockout stages they saw off Mexico 2-1, then Costa Rica on penalties before Wednesday’s loss to Argentina.