PORTO ALEGRE Brazil (Reuters) - All the Netherlands players are fit for their World Cup Group B match against Australia in Porto Alegre on Wednesday, coach Louis van Gaal said on Tuesday.
There had been injury worries over defenders Daley Blind and Ron Vlaar but these had cleared up, Van Gaal said.
“Vlaar is ready to play, Blind is ready to play. All 23 players are fit,” he told a news conference.
Expectations of the Netherlands are high following their 5-1 demolition job on holders Spain in the opening game. The Oranje were not one of the fancied sides when they arrived in Brazil but all that has now changed.
Still, Van Gaal said Australia would not go like lambs to the slaughter.
“I do not expect Australia to have a defensive game, I expect Australia to play an offensive game. They will play a much more offensive game than anyone in this room thinks. They have a very good coach.”
He also singled out Australian striker Tim Cahill - who has played and scored in three consecutive World Cup tournaments - for praise.
Van Gaal declined to divulge if he would stick with the 5-3-2 formation he deployed against Spain or revert to the attack-minded 4-3-3 the Dutch public craves.
“This will be an important factor in the match so I will not say much about it. The difference against Australia is I can play both systems, which I could not do against Spain.”
A Dutch victory would all but guarantee the Netherlands a place in the Round of 16 barring some high-scoring results. A loss for Australia, who were disappointed they did not at least earn a draw against Chile in their opening game, would mean they can start thinking about the long journey home.
But Wesley Sneijder reminded journalists that Australia still have the edge in the matches the two countries have played against one another up till now. Two have been draws and the Socceroos beat the Netherlands 2-1 Eindhoven in 2008.
“We have never won against Australia. We played three times and didn’t win. It will be difficult,” the midfielder said.
Editing by Nigel Hunt