Malacia tips former Red for Golden Boot
Tyrell Malacia is expecting the Netherlands to perform well at the World Cup finals, and is thrilled by the prospect of representing his country in Qatar.
The full-back is part of Louis van Gaal's squad for the tournament and believes international team-mate and former Reds forward Memphis Depay is a good shout to pick up the Golden Boot.
The Barcelona striker is struggling to prove his fitness before the Dutch team's opener with Senegal on Monday (16:00 GMT kick-off) but Malacia believes the forward, and the side in general, will enjoy themselves in the Middle East.
"It's a really big achievement," he said, of the chance to play for his country on the biggest stage. "I think I can't describe that for myself. It's amazing.
“I think, of course, from the beginning when I won my first cap until now, they [the people back home] are so proud and really happy for me.”
Aside from predicting Memphis to be leading scorer, the 23-year-old feels the experience within the camp will prove useful this time around. The ex-United man scored 12 goals in qualifying, a number only matched by England's Harry Kane in the European section, and was only 20 when helping fire his country to third place in the 2014 tournament.
"Of course, he [van Gaal] knows a lot and he helps us a lot," added Malacia. "He talks with us a lot and has a lot of experience for the younger players to know. We also have some guys in the team who have already played at the World Cup, so I think our team has a bit of everything, you know.”
Nonetheless, the defender admits it is impossible to predict what will happen when the action starts to unfold.
“It’s difficult because, in tournaments, you never know, you know, as the team who has the best day wins,” he reasoned.
Meanwhile, van Gaal has suggested he picked the squad's shirt numbers on age rather than any clues as to likely starters. Malacia will wear no.16, rather than his no.12 at United, and could compete with former Red Daley Blind for the left-back slot.
The Netherlands follow up their Senegal opener with fixtures against Ecuador and hosts Qatar in Group A.