Louis van Gaal is preparing his Netherlands squad to face two significant challenges in its World Cup last 16 in Fortaleza: Mexico and the weather.
The Dutch coach said he hopes Fifa will use drink breaks during the match so that players can replenish fluids in Fortaleza’s hot and humid Arena Castelao.
Tests the Dutch have conducted during training in Brazil and pre-tournament friendlies show that some players lose up to four litres of fluid during a match.
“Can you imagine that?” Van Gaal said Saturday. “That has to be replenished because otherwise you start hallucinating.”
If Fifa does not have scheduled drinks breaks during the match, Van Gaal said he will take action to ensure his players do not dehydrate.
“Drinks will be along the sidelines if Fifa doesn’t take care of it,” he said.
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera said he hoped the heat would help his team.
“We might adapt a bit better because our climate is closer, but we also have players based in Europe,” he said. “But it will be a physical game and hopefully it will be a factor.”
Van Gaal has a full squad apart from injured defenders Leroy Fer (hamstring) and Bruno Martins Indi (concussion). Striker and captain Robin van Persie is available again after being suspended for the last group match.
Dirk Kuyt, normally a forward, will likely again play left back and win his 100th international cap in the process. He will become the second Dutch player, after Wesley Sneijder, to reach the milestone in Brazil.
After coming to Brazil unburdened by high expectations, the Netherlands have been one of the best teams of the tournament so far, using counterattacking football to record three straight wins and top Group B, scoring 10 goals on the way and conceding only three.
Mexico have stood out mainly due to their stingy defence and great goalkeeper, with Guillermo Ochoa conceding just one goal in three matches as they finished second behind Brazil in Group A on goal difference.
Van Gaal said he considers Mexico an even better team than Chile, wwho hich his team beat 2-0 in Sao Paulo last Sunday in a clinical display of staunch defending and swift counterattacking.
“I expect a match like against Chile because there isn’t much difference in the way Chile and Mexico play,” he said. “I think Chile has two outstanding players. Mexico has fewer and that is what makes it a better team.”