Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is keen to avoid Brazil in the next round because the host country at any World Cup has the advantage, he said on Sunday.
On the eve of his team’s clash with Chile in Sao Paulo to decide who tops Group B, Van Gaal railed against world soccer’s governing body FIFA and suggested that the scheduling of the games disadvantaged the Dutch.
Although Brazil have played before the Netherlands in the first two games, they play after them in the final group round, theoretically giving them an advantage, because they will know who they are likely to meet in the last 16.
The winners of Brazil’s Group A play the runners-up in Group B on Saturday, while the second-placed team in Group A meet the Group B winners next Sunday.
“For every match they (FIFA) have this publicity around fair play,” Van Gaal told a news conference at the Corinthians arena, where Monday’s game will be played.
“FIFA plays these tricks. It’s not a good thing of course. It’s not fair play,” he added, when asked about the order of the matches on Monday.
“We’re going to focus on a victory tomorrow (Monday) against Chile, and I don’t think that will be affected by the fact that Brazil will be playing after us. I’m just assuming that they will do their sporting duty.”
Van Gaal would not be drawn on whether he wanted to avoid Brazil in the first knockout round of the tournament, because he did not want to antagonise his other potential opponents, Mexico and Croatia.
But speaking to FIFA.com separately, when asked whether it was all important to avoid Brazil, he replied: “Definitely. If I were allowed to choose, I’d rather not play against Brazil, although Croatia or Mexico aren’t bad opponents either. But I think at a World Cup the host country always has an advantage.”
Van Gaal railed against the referees, who he said had awarded two erroneous penalties against his side in the opening two games.
On both occasions the opposition scored, forcing the Netherlands to come from behind to win.
“We have seen at this World Cup that we conceded a penalty on two occasions that was unjustified, that was incorrect, at least in my opinion,” he said.
Bakary Gassama of Gambia has been chosen to referee Monday’s match.
“On two occasions we get a penalty,” Van Gaal said. “There is no country that has experienced something like that, so perhaps this referee will do a better job. I’m just hoping that FIFA has carried out a good selection procedure.”
Van Gaal expects Chile to present a serious test.
“I expect it’s going to be a very difficult opponent, I think it’s going to be 50-50,” he said.
He praised Chile’s pressing game and the fact that they focused on zonal marking continued…