Van Gaal thought he had the whole squad together now in Portugal, with Verhaegh, Janmaat and Van der Vaart slowly returning to the training pitch. But the training camp was in slight shock when Van Gaal had to announce that poor ol’ Rafael is not going to make it to the World Cup. The tear in his calf will be such that his fitness cannot be guaranteed for the tournament.
It would have been massive for the 31 year old midfielder who played an important role in the qualifications but his 110th cap will have to wait.
Wesley Sneijder is his old confident (cocky) self. The little general did have some question marks about this World Cup earlier in the year but is quite comfortable now. “I did have my doubts in the past years. Mr Van Gaal was pretty intense in his judgements and I have to say, looking back, he was right. I was not 100%. I might have been 95%. Good enough for Galatasaray in the Turkish competition, but not good enough for CL glory or World Cup glory. I see that now. But over the last months, those doubts melted I was gaining fitness and form. And I walked into this training camp with a good feeling.”
So you are confident you’ll be on the plane? “Well no… actually, no one is apart from Robin and Arjen I guess… We’re all a bit tense with regards to this last cut off.”
Dirk Kuyt can be seen as a real veteran. The 33 year old believe he has much more years in his body. “The doctors at Fener always say I have the body of a 25 year old. It feels like that too. I will happily play more seasons in Turkey and maybe return to Holland one day. Who knows…”
Kuyt enjoys the process preparing towards the World Cup. “The actual tournament goes really quick. You’re in this haze, in this flow. But the prep phase is good fun. You grow towards each other, both on the pitch and off. Some of us know each other really well but most of the youngsters I don’t really know that well. And once you are in this pre-tournament process, it happens. You talk about other things than football, you play games, you socialise. It’s cool.”
What kind of games? “Well, we are all winners I guess. So we play games like cards, or table tennis or playstation games… There is a lot of rivalry happening and its always fun to try and beat certain lads. Arjen Robben has tremendous fits of anger when he loses, hahahaha. And there is nothing more fun than watching him…. But I’m the same, to be honest…”
Jordy Clasie is the table tennis king at the moment, as the lads have an internal competition. The little Feyenoord playmaker analyses his perfect pass on Van Persie below:
“I had a little bit of time, looked up and saw space behind their defence and Robin was already moving in that space. A pass like that needs to be firm and have enough speed. So you gotta put your laces through the ball, to keep it flat and to have the ball beat the defenders. And Robin is wonderful to play with, as you can do anything with him. He can have it in his feet, or in his stride, high, low, doesn’t matter with him.”
Here are some highlights of the training sessions:
Tomorrow, LVG will announce the final squad for Brazil.
Without Van der Vaart, it seems Wijnaldum has a real chance, although Louis might actually consider Depay or RObben for that role too or even Vilhena depending on how well the PSV midfielder is doing…. He is lacking rhythm too, so with a 5-3-2 LVG might decide to take an extra midfielder like Fer or an extra winger like Promes who impressed against Scotland….
We’ll find out soon!!