Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk warned that it was vital his players put their quarter-final victory over Brazil behind them as he looked forward to Tuesday's semi-final against Uruguay in an interview with FIFA.
FIFA: Congratulations, you've reached the semi-finals. What a match on Friday against Brazil.
Bert van Marwijk: It was a match with everything in it for us. At the press conference afterwards, I said that you could see the last two years reflected in one match. We're a team that look very stable and can fall back on good organisation, and through that, we also have confidence and can play football very well. We're a team that can also be patient but we were facing a situation like this for the first time. In the first 20 minutes you could see that we weren't ourselves and in that period we could have easily lost the match.
What do you think went wrong in those first 20 minutes?
Our organisation wasn't right when they scored. Apart from that I think the players were positioned well during the whole match. But before the game I also said that against Brazil you really have to be yourself and play your own game, dictate your own tempo. We had decided that before and spoken about it, but then you begin and you see that, somehow, Brazil were just that bit smarter, that bit more aggressive, and more professional as well. They had a bit more confidence and we were missing that. We should have shown more initiative and self-confidence. You could see that after 20-25 minutes, it was coming back a bit and I hoped then that if we got to half-time at 1-0, we'd still have a chance in the second half. It was then that we shook off all the pressure and we played a very good match.
How proud are you of your players?
For me, the best moments are the moments when you get rewarded as a team for all the work you've done. That's what I enjoy most. The boys played fantastically well and showed the right mentality and on such a stage, in such an important match with so much pressure they came back from 1-0 down. That's just very good.
You said yourself that the team process is important. If you had to describe yourself as a coach, what do you think is most important?
I'm very clear to the players. They should be able to call you at night and I'll be there for them, but I like to show some very clear boundaries. I think it’s important that you're in the middle of the group at the right moments, but also take a distance from them at the right times. It's important that you can influence but that you don't get influenced. These are some of the most important characteristics for a coach. Everyone does it in his own way and me as well. Everything I say is my truth, not the one and only truth.
Now it's Uruguay in the semi finals. How well do you know them?
We've already seen a lot of Uruguay and I know some of the players. It will be a very dangerous match. I warned this on the first day two years ago – there's always the next game. The euphoria at home is massive at the moment and maybe it's good that we're so far away and can't witness it because we really need to focus on Uruguay and that won’t be easy. They didn't reach the semi final for nothing, so we have to really focus again and not think that we're already there.
Is that the biggest danger for you – the euphoria and the changes you need to make?
We have witnessed it before in the past. Think about two years ago in Austria and Switzerland – we beat Italy and France and everybody already thought we would become European champions but we didn't even survive the quarter-finals because we thought that we were already there. That's what I've tried to make clear, that this has to be different. Until now, the players have shown that they've picked that up very well but this will be another important test.
So in that sense, you fully trust your players?
I've a lot of faith in my players and in everything – our whole organisation and the way we work. But in the end it's also the mindset at a particular moment that decides whether you win a match or not.