Louis van Gaal ’s plan for the Netherlands that allowed them to stage an heroic comeback against Argentina in their World Cup quarter-final has been leaked.
The Dutch initially fell 2-0 behind to the South American side as Nahuel Molina and Lionel Messi both scored. It looked as though the Oranje were on their way home from Qatar having struggled to threaten throughout the vast majority of the tie.
That was until Burnley flop Wout Weghorst was introduced by Van Gaal. He gave the Dutch hope in the 83rd minute as he powered home a brilliant header to halve the deficit.
The 30-year-old striker was then on hand in the closing stages to send the game to extra-time. A stunning free-kick routine saw the ball rolled to Weghorst, who stayed composed to tuck the ball into the far corner - triggering wild celebrations across the Netherlands.
Whilst the goal left a whole host of spectators gasping in surprise, it appears that former Manchester United boss Van Gaal had already planned the Dutch comeback even before the game. In footage shared on NOS, his tactics notepad was shared titled ‘Plan B’.
On the notepad, Weghorst was pictured partnering Luuk de Jong in what was an imperious Dutch attack. They were joined by the likes of Cody Gakpo, Davy Klaasen, Teun Koopmeiners and Martin de Roon.
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That team all-but came to fruition at the Lusail Stadium against Argentina, the only changes being Noa Lang and Steven Berghuis being introduced as substitutes. Whilst Van Gaal had his plans in place, it did not quite pay off for the Dutchman.
Virgil van Dijk and Berghuis saw their efforts saved by Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez before Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez went on to net the winning penalty. Argentina will now meet another European side in the form of Croatia in the semi-finals.
Zlatko Dalic’s side managed to overcome Brazil in their own penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw after extra-time. Croatia and Argentina came together in the group stages of the previous World Cup in Russia - the Balkan nation running out surprise 3-0 winners following goals from Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what the future holds for Van Gaal. The 71-year-old’s contract with the Netherlands expires after the World Cup having now had three stints in charge of his country.
He has however confirmed that it will be his final managerial post but has suggested that remaining in football could be a possibility. Speaking earlier this week, he said: “No. Actually I will stop being a head coach.
“I am only doing this for the country, for the Netherlands, because it was an emergency situation and I committed to that.”