Will the Dutch team be healthy for their Round of 16 game against the USA after Louis van Gaal discloses there is a flu among the squad?
Perhaps the only saving grace for the Netherlands as they battle the flu, is that the Americans may have to face them without their best player who remains injured.
As they prepare for their Round of 16 clash with the U.S.A. the Netherlands’ coach has admitted that there are in fact some health concerns within the camp of ‘Oranje.’ The question now is, can they recover in time?
Louis van Gaal admits Dutch players are battling the flu
Though he didn’t get into specific numbers or names, Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal did acknowledge that there are several players in his squad, who are suffering with “flu symptoms” ahead of the Netherlands round of 16 tie with the U.S.A. Indeed, the Dutch skipped a training session on Friday, as well as their usual 11 vs. 11 training session drills. To be clear, van Gaal did not indicate whether the decision to forgo training was related to illness, however, he did say that he expects every member of his squad to be available “in principle” when they meet the USMNT at the Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday. Ultimately, the coach’s hesitance to offer up more concrete information does suggest there is some doubt, but for the moment it’s all we’ve got.
“If it goes around in the group, it is worrying,” Van Gaal said, before adding that “there are not fifteen or so. In principle, everyone is fit and available.” Interestingly, Van Gaal also explained that the decision to change the training session format was based on a direct request from his squad. “I gave them a day of rest. With this group, they communicate that to me. I listen to my players,” said the coach who took Holland to the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup where they lost to Argentina.
Illness has been a problem for others at the World Cup
While it certainly won’t help the Netherlands to know this, they aren’t actually the first team to have health concerns amongst their squad during the tournament in Qatar. Fans will recall that just recently Brazil winger Antony took ill and even cited the air conditioning of Qatar’s stadiums as a contributing factor. Whether that’s actually the case or not, we can’t say, but it certainly is food for thought given that this is the first time we’ve witness a World Cup being played at this time of year and with air-conditioned stadiums.
How is the USMNT coping?
At present, there has been no word to suggest that the USMNT has any health issues of its own, however, they do have one major injury concern. Chelsea winger and arguably the American’s best player, Christian Pulisic suffered a worrisome hip contusion in their victory over Iran and continues to be monitored day-to-day. With that said, head coach Gregg Berhalter recently offered an optimistic assessment of Christian Pulisic’s potential availability for the game, which comes just four days after he scored the dramatic winner for the US, which incidentally also resulted in his injury. Now in the last 16, they can only wait and hope that their talisman recovers in time. If he doesn’t, it certainly won’t be due to a lack of support as you can see for yourself below:
At any rate, the Americans remain positive. “We’re gonna see him on the training field today,” said Berhalter. “What I think is it looks pretty good, but we’ll have to see him on the pitch to get confirmation of that.” It’s worth mentioning, that starting striker Josh Sargent remains a doubt having sustained an ankle injury. Indeed, while the USMNT may not have health issues, they are little banged up, which is not ideal now that they are set to face one of the world’s top 10 teams.