MADRID: Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is hoping as many Spain players as possible feature in the Champions League final on May 24 so the holders have less time to prepare for their June 13 World Cup Group B clash.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque may have to wait until after the European club showpiece in Lisbon before he can begin preparations for the finals in Brazil with squad members from the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
In a worse case scenario, if Barca and Real meet in the Champions League final, 12 or more Spain players could be involved, including midfielders Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas and first and second choice goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Victor Valdes.
Van Gaal may have to wait for Bayern’s Arjen Robben to join up with the squad but others like Robin van Persie of Manchester United or Paris St Germain’s Gregory van der Wiel are unlikely to play in Lisbon.
“Maybe we will be luckier and he (Del Bosque) will have more players in the final,” Van Gaal said in an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca published on Saturday.
“Hopefully there will be a lot of Spaniards on May 24 in Lisbon,” added the 62-year-old, a former Ajax Amsterdam, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach who is in his second stint in charge of Netherlands.
The meeting between Spain and Netherlands in Salvador, a repeat of the 2010 final, may be crucial in deciding who goes through as Group B winners to face the runners-up from a Group A featuring Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.
The team that finishes second in Group B, which also includes Chile and Australia, is likely to face the hosts in the last 16 but Van Gaal said he was not letting that prospect become a distraction.
“We are going to play to top the group and we won’t be looking at whether we meet Brazil or not,” he told Marca.
“First we have to play the world and European champions then Chile, who have enormous potential, and then Australia.
“Although it seems crazy, we have never been able to beat Australia in the three matches we have played.
“Trying to get through the group is enough. You cannot say we had luck in the draw.”
Van Gaal reiterated his interest in managing an English Premier League club once his contract with Netherlands ends after the World Cup and again mentioned Tottenham Hotspur as a possible destination.
“I would like to coach in England. I already worked in Spain, Germany and Holland,” he said.
“The Premier League could be the next stop for me, that’s what I would like most to complete my career.
“Tottenham has been talked about but for sure there will be other places.
“It depends on a lot of things, when I decide to say farewell to the Dutch federation.
“The first thing is the World Cup. Working with players on a day to day basis is something I miss.”