Van Gaal’s decision to bring on a substitute goalkeeper for the penalty shoot-out against Costa Rica paid off as Tim Krul saved two spot-kicks to take the Dutch through to a meeting with Argentina in the last four.
The Netherlands boss has employed an effective counter-attacking style and Arjen Robben says the latest tactical masterstroke is just one example of how Van Gaal can change the outcome of a game.
“We have a superb trainer, a coach who works magic like this all the time,” said winger Robben.
“Nobody knew about what he was going to do apart from one goalkeeper.”
Van Gaal will step down from his role with the Netherlands at the end of their World Cup campaign and take charge of Manchester United.
Dirk Kuyt, who scored one of the penalties against Costa Rica, believes Van Gaal is the perfect man to gel a team together.
The former Liverpool player, now at Fenerbahce, said: “This is the power of the manager.
“It is not easy to create a team like this, but if you want to do something, you have to go in the same direction and he is the perfect manager to make that happen.
“It is experience. He has shown in many countries that he can do this job. He also convinces the players that his way can be successful and I think that is the key.”
Kuyt added: “He speaks with everyone, discusses the systems, so everyone knows and they will be ready when something happens.”
Midfielder Nigel de Jong has also been impressed by Van Gaal’s ability to switch formations, tactics and players to turn matches around for the Netherlands.
“You’ve seen his resume - he is a fantastic coach and over the years he has got a lot of experience,” said De Jong.
“He is just one of a kind, in his way of working and especially the tactical discipline he has got for the team.
“He is one of the first I experienced that makes tactical changes in games. For me it is a new experience.”