‘I think three defenders should be able to defend the last line,’ Van Gaal said at Wednesday’s press conference in Warsaw. ‘It’s difficult, but that’s what I think.’
The men’s team went 2-0 down to Poland in Rotterdam in the reverse fixture in June before recovering to draw 2-2 and needed last-minute goals to beat Wales home and away. The Dutch have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight international matches.
Van Gaal said veteran Barcelona striker Robert Lewandowski would provide the kind of test his team needed. ‘I think it’s fantastic,’ he said. ‘If you can hold the line against Lewandowski and play it well … there’s hardly a better striker around.’
Thursday night’s match is the second-last chance for Van Gaal to finalise his team and his system before the World Cup kicks off in Qatar in two months’ time.
The coach revealed that Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul, whose penalty saves were instrumental in Oranje’s run to the semi-finals the last time they played in the World Cup in 2014, had asked not to be considered for selection.
‘Tim phoned me and said he wanted to pass. I can understand it, but I think it’s a pity,’ Van Gaal said.
The team can qualify for the Nations League knockout stages if they win and Belgium fail to beat Wales at home. Otherwise, it will come down to the final match against Belgium in Amsterdam on Sunday.