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The return of Total Football? My team always played this way, insists Van Gaal

The Netherlands' demolition of Spain in their opening World Cup match had pundits drooling about the return of Total Football, the Dutch style exemplified by Johan Cruyff that delighted the world in decades past.

But for coach Louis van Gaal, his nation have always played it their way.

"There was no euphoria in the team," Van Gaal said. "We have played Total Football. Nothing has changed in that respect. We are applying the Dutch principles."

The Netherlands' brutal play in the 2010 World Cup final, which they lost to Spain, led many pundits to bemoan the loss of artistry and imagination in the Dutch side.

That changed with last week's victory over the champions, even though, truth be told, the Netherlands retain a hard edge.

Van Gaal also often uses a 5-3-2 formation, in contrast to the 4-3-3 of the classic era. "It is assumed that to use three forwards is the Ducth tradition but I have a different view on this," he said.

The spirit of democracy that also characterised Total Football is still evident, with players feeling free to give their opinions to the coach. Both captain Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben have been vocal about the formation they would like to see employed. "I will always listen to the team and their message and I will take this into consideration and see if I agree. That's the way I always do it," Van Gaal said.

There had been injury worries over defenders Daley Blind and Ron Vlaar but these had cleared up, Van Gaal admitted. "Vlaar is ready to play, Blind is ready to play," he said. "All 23 players are fit."

Australia, meanwhile, led by Tim Cahill, will take the fight to the Netherlands tonight, coach Ange Postecoglou insisted.

His side displayed plenty of determination in an opening 3-1 loss to Chile but are in a different weight class from the other teams in a group that also includes Spain.

While the Chileans are a tough side, the Australians will move up a division at Beira Rio stadium when they square off against the Dutch.

"That is going to be an enormous challenge for us to stop their attacking game but the other side of that is if we defend for 90 minutes there is only going to be one result and that won't be in our favour," Postecoglou said. "From our perspective it is just as important we are dangerous when we have the ball and we think we can be. We have fantastic support, they are really positive and right behind us.

"From our perspective, we know it is a massive challenge tomorrow, there is a lot at stake for both teams.

"If the Dutch win they are through to the next round and if we don't get a result then it is the end of our tourney."

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