The Dutch overcame Costa Rica on penalties after 120 goalless minutes as Tim Krul, introduced ahead of the shoot-out in what has been deemed a managerial masterstroke, saved two of the spot-kicks. Skipper Robin van Persie and ex-Liverpool man Dirk Kuyt helped motivate the troops ahead of the dramatic conclusion in Salvador.
"If a player says something, it hits [home] more than if I do," explained van Gaal. "Robin and Dirk gave great speeches. That was fantastic but I've felt this since we got together and became a unit at the training camp in Portugal.
"So I don't need to check on them, at all. They know exactly when they have to take their responsibilities. It's not about me or the staff but taking responsibility.
"In terms of team spirit and togetherness, this is the best group I've worked with. I thought we had more quality than Costa Rica and deserved to win. I don't know how much ball possession we had, how many times we hit the woodwork and how many chances we had. In the end, it's all about scoring."
Star winger Arjen Robben hailed van Gaal's tactical genius and Nigel De Jong, who is sidelined with injury, also praised the coach's remarkable attention to detail.
"He prepares for everything," revealed Robben to ESPN. "The coach speaks with everyone and discusses the systems. So we all know we will be ready when something happens. This is the power of the manager. It is not easy to create a team like