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The Netherlands boss believes his country's domestic league has closed the gap on Italy's, with the two nations due to face off in Wednesday's international friendly

Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal says the Eredivisie is at least as strong as Serie A, if not stronger.

Speaking ahead of his side's international friendly with Italy on Wednesday, the 61-year-old also argued that he would no longer categorise Serie A amongst the elite leagues in the world.

"In my eyes the Eredivisie is at least equivalent to Serie A," the former Sparta Rotterdam star told reporters. "Maybe even stronger.

"There are three or four leagues [which are the best in the world]. Germany, Spain and England are part of that, [but] Italy are not."

The former midfielder caused some surprise in his squad selection for the tie, by calling up only 20 players and leaving out big names such as Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Johnny Heitinga and Rafael van der Vaart.

"The Dutch team should not act as a rehabilitation centre," said Van Gaal.

"I do not think a meagre selection now remains. I think there is a full team together. It is exciting. I wonder if some of the guys can show that too at this stage.

"I'm not someone who always falls back on the same players. With this team we can at least [make things] difficult for Italy. They are the number four [team] in the world, but I think we can win it," he added.

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