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[World Cup] Netherlands’ defense holding up well at WC

By Korea Herald

Published : July 1, 2014 - 20:15

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FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) ― The inexperienced Dutch defense looked to be the weak link coming into the World Cup. So far, though, it’s holding up well enough to keep the team winning.

Again showing he is not afraid to make changes, Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal gave defender Paul Verhaegh only his third international appearance against Mexico in the second round, replacing Daryl Janmaat at right back. The Augsburg player struggled early against pacey Mexico wingback Miguel Layun, but the Netherlands’ defense conceded only one goal on Sunday and its lethal front line came to the rescue late to salvage a 2-1 victory. “I wanted better position play and better buildup in the first and second phases,” van Gaal said. “I thought that that succeeded. We had much more of the ball than in any other game.”

If there is a lesson for Costa Rica ahead of the quarterfinals on July 5 in Salvador, it is that the Dutch defense often looks shaky when it is put under pressure.

And in the next match, the Netherlands may be without key defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong. The AC Milan forward had to come off in the ninth minute on Sunday with a groin strain. Then there is Robin van Persie. The Manchester United striker scored three goals in his first two matches, then sat out a game through suspension and was ineffective against Mexico until van Gaal ― showing that nobody is above being substituted ― replaced him with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.