For any other manager and it would be classed as a bizarre gamble but not Louis van Gaal.
Last night, with the game producing no goals and entering stoppage time at the end of extra time, Van Gaal replaced first choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen with substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul. The decision proved to be a tactical master stroke as Krul went on to save spot-kicks from Bryan Ruiz and Michael Umana to secure the Netherlands a 4-3 penalty shootout victory and a semi-final clash on Wednesday night against Argentina in Sao Paulo.
Van Gaal stated after the match that Cillessen was not aware of the possible substitution because he did not want to “ruin the preparation” of the Ajax stopper.
“Thankfully it worked out because otherwise I’d have made the wrong tactical change.”
LOUIS VAN GAAL
Cillessen has made no mistakes for the Dutch so far and even made a decisive last gasp save to prevent the Costa Ricans from snatching the victory last night. However out of the four goals that Cillessen has conceded in the tournament, two of which have been penalty kicks. After weighing up this and Newcastle’s Tim Krul impressing at the training camp, the Manchester United manager made the huge decision to exchange them with seconds of extra-time remaining.
Proud of his actions, the Oranje coach said: “We found that among our three goalkeepers that Krul was the best at saving penalties because he has a longer reach. So we studied the Costa Rican penalties and you can see that Krul guessed the right way every time. I am really pleased that the decision paid off.”
Although, for the first time this tournament, we did see some unrest in the Dutch camp with the substitution decision. Once taken off, many witnessed Cillessen booting water bottles on the touchline and had to be consoled by team-mates. Watching from the sideline, it did not take long for Cillessen to get over his disappointment of being substituted as raced on the pitch and punched the air in celebration once Krul has performed his heroics.
The decision was a huge risk but the more intimidating Krul seemed to upset the Costa Ricans before each penalty was taken. In a true example of gamesmanship, the Newcastle keeper would talk to each player before they lined up their shot, and proceeded to jump up and down on the line to make himself fill out the goalmouth.
It worked a treat as Krul looked super confident during the shootout, saving the second and fifth penalties. Afterwards, Krul stated that is he was delighted with his role.
Krul, talking to De Telegraaf, stated “Tonight I have realised a dream and what I experienced out there is an incredible emotion. The coach had warned me it may happen and I was fully prepared, as I knew that I may have had this opportunity.”
Van Gaal has announced, although he was thrilled with Krul’s shootout performance, Cillessen would keep his place in the starting line-up. “There is no question about who will start next game, it will be Cillessen.”
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