As the Netherlands begin their knockout stage campaign against Mexico, there are a few questions regarding the tactics to be used. One such issue surrounds the role of Memphis Depay, who has impressed so far during his limited time on the pitch.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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The knockout stage of the World Cup is a completely different tournament. Unlike in the group stages, only victory will suffice. Coaches are now faced with the dilemma of whether to go with similar tactics and lineups that allowed them to advance out of the group stage, or take a risk and try something new in order to keep the opponent guessing – and Louis van Gaal is certainly no exception to this.

With captain Robin van Persie set to return to the lineup, following his one-game suspension, the head coach is widely expected to use the 5-3-2 formation. However, given the uncertainty surrounding the fitness of Bruno Martins Indi, the declining form of Wesley Sneijder, and the underwhelming  midfield performances of both Jonathan de Guzman and Georginio Wijnaldum, perhaps a 5-3-2 would be too much of a risk.

A 4-3-3 formation could solve some of these issues, and should be advocated given the recent performances of Memphis Depay. The PSV man so far has made two substitute appearances, against Australia and Chile, scoring in both, including the winning goal in their 3-2 victory against Australia.

With the status of Martins Indi a doubt for the Oranje, van Gaal ought to be advised against adopting a three-man central-defence, as this could be partly comprised of Daryl Janmaat which often left the Feyenoord man exposed on the right flank, without cover, as was the case against Australia and early on against Chile (before putting in a defensively solid performance). Using Depay on the wings, either as part of the midfield or attack, would relieve some of the defensive duties of the fullbacks, and allow the Dutch to retain possession and absorb wide attacks more effectively.

With Wesley Sneijder painting an increasingly anomalous figure in this World Cup, culminating in a largely forgettable match against Chile, if faith is to be put into Memphis, now is the time to show it. Allowing the PSV man a place in the starting XI would not only reward Depay for his fine games against Australia and Chile, it would also allow van Gaal to assess the Moordrecht-native’s ability to play from the start, whilst also signalling to Sneijder that he faces competition from within the team, and needs to play better – which can only help the Oranje.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)