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50-50: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Champions League 1 day ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jun 24, 2006

Van Basten regrets publicly criticising Ruud

NUREMBERG, June 24 (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Marco van Basten said on Saturday that he regretted publicly criticising Ruud van Nistelrooy saying he should have spoken to him first.

'Regret is a big word but what I did was not correct to the player (Van Nistelrooy),' Van Basten told reporters.

The Dutch coach had hinted on Thursday that the striker, who has been his first choice so far, could be left on the bench for their second round match with Portugal in Nuremberg on Sunday.

Van Nistelrooy has scored only once so far and was taken off in all three Group C matches with Van Basten telling reporters the central striking position was now 'a point of discussion'.

He said Dirk Kuyt's chances of playing had increased.

'We might expect more from Ruud, he has to play a bigger role in our attack,' the coach said on Thursday.

But Van Basten has now admitted he should have talked to the out of form striker, who has also had a disappointing season at Manchester United, before airing his views to the media.

'I spoke with Ruud on Thursday night after dinner and explained what I meant and what I expected from him,' Van Basten told reporters on Saturday.

'He was not pleased with it and felt sorry, but that is the way top sport works.'

Van Basten declined to lift the veil on his starting team to play Portugal saying that in this phase of the tournament every match is a final and he would not discuss his lineup.

Netherlands began the first two group matches, against Serbia & Montenegro and Ivory Coast, with the same side and only changed the lineup once they qualified for the knockout phase.

Against Argentina Van Basten rested five players on yellow cards to avoid any risk of losing them for the second round, but now seems to have some doubts about his midfield and attack.

'We have reviewed our campaign in the Group of Death with satisfaction, although now we need something more,' he said.

'We've a solid team and now we need some offensive power but that has to come from the whole team.'

Van Basten's doubts about his lineup also have to do with the strength of the Portuguese, who have an impressive record against Netherlands with only one defeat in 10 matches.

'Portugal always have been a good defensive team playing well-organised football,' he said. 'If we follow our offensive nature there is a chance we could end up with empty hands.'