Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal is set to leave Manchester United midfield target Jordy Clasie out of his starting line-up for tonight’s World Cup Group B opener against Spain. The 22-year-old is considered one of the most promising members of the Dutch squad, but is expected to start tonight’s re-run of the 2010 World Cup final on the bench.
Van Gaal, who of course is the new Manchester United manager, has reportedly identified Feyenoord's Clasie as a potential summer signing for his new-look Red Devils’ side. But the vastly-experienced Dutch coach will leave out the youngster, opting instead to play a midfield two comprised of Jonathan de Guzman and Nigel de Jong.
It may come as surprise to see Van Gaal stray from his trusted 4-3-3 formation, but the 62-year-old appears to have concerns over the overall quality of his side. Prior to the tournament he gave his team just 20 per cent chance of reaching the quarter-finals, which may explain why he has opted for a more defence-minded 5-3-2 formation.
Spain are favourites to win tonight’s match in Salvador, but the World and European champions will need to be particularly wary about facing two of Europe’s most dangerous players, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, who are capable of inflicting damage on Vicente del Bosque’s side given the opportunity.
Wesley Sneijder will also be hoping to replicate his stunning 2010 World Cup form over the next few weeks. The 30-year-old has recently been a shadow of the player that dragged the Netherlands to the final in Johannesburg four years ago, but Van Gaal retains faith in the playmaker - despite publicly criticising him on occasions.
Manchester United fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Clasie tonight can, however, watch several other of their reported transfer targets in action. Centre-back Bruno Martins Indi will need to be at his best to keep Diego Costa quiet, while Daley Blind will be assigned the task of bombing down the Netherlands’ left-flank.
Van Persie, of course, will lead the line. Although the 30-year-old was not at his best for the Red Devils last season, he will be desperate to show Van Gaal that he still deserves to be the main man for both club and county.
Netherlands XI to face Spain: Cillessen; Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; De Guzman, De Jong; Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie.