Van Gaal tactical masterclass leaves Manchester United fans purring

Louis Van Gaal

A mid-game change in tactics saw the Netherlands overcome a resilient Australian side on Wednesday afternoon.

Louis van Gaal claims he had no doubts his Holland side would finish victorious even before substitute Memphis Depay's decisive effort in the 3-2 World Cup Group B defeat of Australia.

The Netherlands now have one foot in the knock out stages, thanks to their perfect start to the tournament.

"I'm not relieved, because I believe in the second half we played better than Australia," Van Gaal said.

"In the first half they played better, but in the second half we had five, six, seven chances. I expected us to win. When [Mathew] Leckie missed that chance, I said to Patrick Kluivert, 'We're going to win this match.'"

Few teams have been more impressive during the 2014 World Cup than the Dutch, headlined by their switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation.

However, it was a change in system, alongside the addition of Dutch wunderkind, Memphis Depay, which saw the Netherlands take the advantage in this clash.

"I felt that Australia in the first half was the most dominating team and I wanted to change that and I was thinking better to change that at halftime," he explained.

"I took the risk and at halftime I would explain how to play a 4-3-3 system, this is the natural formation that every Dutch guy has grown up with and we can always switch over to that system.

"I felt that in the second half that this worked out much better and there was more pressure on the ball and we created many more opportunities so that was the solution against Australia.

"As a coach I needed to change something at halftime in order to boost their confidence. I had to change their mindset.

"Fortunately it turned out ok but it could have just as well turned out differently."

Van Gaal switched to the Netherland’s traditional 4-3-3 formation at the break, bringing on Depay and placing him on the left wing at the expense of the injured Martins Indi.

This alteration allowed the Dutch attackers to move closer to Robin van Persie, offering additional support in the final third. The full-backs, Daley Blind and Daryl Janmaat were then able to attack Australia's wingers, whilst Sneijder occupied a free role in the centre of the pitch.

We saw a more adventurous, free-flowing Netherlands as a result, and as Van Gaal’s side piled on the pressure, the Socceroos eventually came undone. At 2-1 down, the Dutch responded immediately with a thunderbolt strike from Robin Van Persie and the winner eventually followed.

Depay - touted as the Dutch answer to Cristiano Ronaldo - then marked his World Cup debut with a fabulous strike. His long-range effort found its way into the back of the net from 30-yards, following a weak attempted save from the opposition goalkeeper.

Manchester United fans will surely be excited, after witnessing yet another tactical master class.

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