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Louis van Gaal says he changed the Netherlands’ tactics at the water break

Jun 29, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

Waterbreak AP

For the first time this World Cup, we got an official water break in the searing heat of Fortaleza.

It ended up burning Mexico.

According to Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, he took advantage of the stoppage in play with 15 minutes to go in the match by changing tactics to what he called “Plan B.”

Speaking in the post-match press conference, van Gaal told reporters he instructed his strikers to push farther up the pitch and take long-balls from the back.  That’s exactly what happened:

source:  source:

As you can see, there were plenty more balls hoofed forward from the midfield and back in the final 15 minutes after the water break. Van Gaal used the break in the action to dramatically change how his team was playing, and there’s no arguing that fact.

But is that really a big deal? Opinions seem to be split on the idea.  On one hand, tactic changes happen all the time during the course of a match. Look no further than the United States squad, where Jurgen Klinsmann told the media he hates talking about formations because he changes shape and tactics multiple times during a match.

However, it’s hard to argue with the value of being able to essentially hold a timeout during play, allowing a manager to collect his team and speak to them all at once in a huddle.

The media was split on the issue:

The other point here that’s lost is that Miguel Herrera had equal time to speak with his team, and he also changed tactics.  He had brought off Giovani dos Santos just 10 minutes earlier for a defensive midfielder in Javier Aquino, and after the water break Mexico sat back and looked to cling to its 1-0 lead.

Unfortunately, that decision backfired when the Netherlands began heaving passes and players forward.  So, despite the ability for Van Gaal to swap his tactics, it’s not exactly an advantage for the Netherlands given both teams had the same opportunity.  However, it became a talking point when the Netherlands made a positive change and Mexico incorrectly sat back.

In that way, Miguel Herrera was simply outcoached by Van Gaal, a matter that is inescapable, but complicated by the ability for the Dutchman to make the switch.

Do you believe water breaks are a dangerous change to how managers approach the game? Or do you think they’re a necessary switch to keep the players safe?

Dashboards courtesy of FourFourTwo StatsZone app.

  1. yankeefootball - Jun 29, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    Player health in the conditions should be paramount. The coaches change tactics during the game all of the time. There’s no reason to think the sky is falling. Thank goodness it wasn’t an American idea for water breaks!

    • drewvt6 - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:34 PM

      Thank goodness the World has accepted it as necessary so that MLS can fully embrace this in it’s crazy hot climates. If the World had not accepted it the Eurosnobs would use it as another reason to disregard the naivete of such a stupid boring ‘Mercan league.

  2. jrocknstuff - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    I’m all for keeping players safe, and I believe the water breaks need to remain, but I don’t like managers getting a chance to speak to the entire team at once in the middle of play. I’d rather the players congregate at mid-field and the trainers bring the water bottles out to them while the mangers remain on the bench. If the trainers relay a message from the manager so be it, but I don’t want the manager to have the opportunity to talk with the team as a whole.

  3. fagiolip - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    The reality is that it changes everything. Being fit and prepared for the conditions at hand are a part of the game and give an advantage to those that prepare better. Water breaks are a way to escape culpability by the “authorities’ (fifa). I think they should be abolished. What will they do in Qatar? Stop playing every 10 mins for a break?

  4. urallstupid - Jun 29, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    its a little different between trying to yell instructions to your players across the field vs being able to talk to your whole team as a whole. journalists who cant see that are as dumb as bricks.

  5. sportsfan18 - Jun 29, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    “However, it’s hard to argue with the value of being able to essentially hold a timeout during play, allowing a manager to collect his team and speak to them all at once in a huddle.”

    Uh, BOTH team manager’s are able to do this during a water break…

    Managers will do what they think is best for their team be it during a water break or not…

    Just because a team CAN change up tactics during a water break does NOT mean they should or have to.

    It depends on that game… Some games a manager would NOT want to make a change of tactics…

    Game by game, situation by situation dictates what should be done…

    • tridecagon - Jun 29, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      Well, yes. But certainly the enhanced ability to cause a change in the match – to shake things up – favors the team that is losing. They’re the ones that need to adjust.

  6. fantom21 - Jun 29, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    It wasn’t the first water break of the World Cup. There was one in Manaus when Portugal played the US.. How could you have forgotten that one? Watching the games??

    • Kyle Bonn - Jun 29, 2014 at 7:50 PM

      That was not an official water break, FIFA didn’t announce them before the match. It was a simple stoppage in play, and confused the media. Here, they decided to break for water before the match.

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