Louis van Gaal talks up Netherlands’ ‘big chances’ of winning World Cup

<span>Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

Louis van Gaal claimed the Netherlands have “big chances” of winning the World Cup after swatting aside the USA to advance to the quarter-finals. Van Gaal, who led his country to the semi-finals of the tournament in Brazil in 2014, must now prepare his team to face the winners of Saturday night’s Argentina v Australia game on Friday.

“I think we have big chances here,” said the 71-year-old, in his third spell in charge of his country. “We still have three matches to go. I’ve been talking about this for a year. We can become world champions – not that we will – but we can. I am talking about team-bonding, how we can build the strongest possible team and I derive pleasure from the group of players and, of course, performances and results.”

Related: Netherlands into quarter-finals after Dumfries volley caps win against USA

Denzel Dumfries, who set up the first two goals for Memphis Depay and Daley Blind then capped the scoring with a fine volley, was named the man of the match. When Van Gaal, sitting alongside Dumfries, was asked how highly he regards the 26-year-old, the Netherlands manager proceeded to kiss his defender on the cheek. “Denzel knows that full well,” Van Gaal said. “Yesterday or the day before yesterday, I gave him a big fat kiss. I’m going to give him another big fat kiss [now] so that everyone can see.”

Gregg Berhalter, the USA head coach since 2018, sent on Haji Wright with a quarter of the game to go and saw him pull a goal back via a freak deflection in the 76th minute after meeting Christian Pulisic’s cross, five minutes before Dumfries restored the Dutch’s two-goal margin. Pulisic had missed a chance to give the USA a third-minute lead.Berhalter, out of contract at the end of the year, was noncommittal about his future but said the tournament was a partial success. “I do feel that we have made progress,” he said. “We set out with a goal to show the rest of the world we can play soccer and I think we partially achieved that, although we fell short of our goals.”

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Berhalter added: “We are a very young group at the beginning of their careers. We are going to catch up to that. We don’t have a Memphis Depay right now who is scoring in the Champions League and playing for Barcelona. That stuff is going to come. Regarding me personally, for the last month and a half I’ve been only focused on the World Cup and achieving things with this group, and in the next couple of weeks I’ll sit down and think about what is next.”