Virgil van Dijk does not put up with the criticism of his person.Image: imago / Laci Perenyi
World Cup 2022
The Netherlands is trembling about progressing to the 2022 World Cup. Although coach Louis van Gaal’s team is second in Group B and has what is supposedly the easiest task of the tournament against Qatar on the third day of the game, they drew 1-1 with Ecuador on Friday open how big the problems still are.
Because the 2-0 win against Senegal wasn’t really great either, there are growing concerns at home that the supposed co-favorites could say goodbye to the tournament earlier than hoped.
The team would love to play a strong tournament. For yourself, but also for the coach: Louis van Gaal announced a few months ago that he had prostate cancer.
Central defender Virgil van Dijk said a few days ago about Louis van Gaal: “He is our coach and we fight for him. He is a great person, very direct. We will definitely go the extra yard for him because we know it will be his last World Cup is.”
“He doesn’t take the lead. He doesn’t care about anything in the team. He just makes noises but he doesn’t say anything.”
Marco van Basten, former Dutch soccer player
A legend criticizes the actually undisputed Virgil van Dijk
As captain, the 31-year-old is the undisputed leading player and has long been a living legend at Liverpool FC. But after the 1-1 draw against Ecuador, he was met with unusually harsh criticism – and that of one of the country’s most prominent ex-footballers.
Marco van Basten was the first to criticize van Dijk’s role in the goal against Ecuador: “He just waits and watches him take the shot. What is he waiting for?” And then basically became: “He doesn’t take the lead. He doesn’t care about anything in the team. He just makes noises but he doesn’t say anything.”
Van Basten is not always undisputed with his opinions – in 2019 he was even fired from an expert job because of a Nazi scandal. But he is one of the best players his country has ever seen. He is a legend of Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan. As a former national coach, his word carries weight.
Marco van Basten isn’t teasing for the first time
Van Basten van Dijk had already attacked in September. “It’s strange that such a good player does so little to build our national team,” said the 58-year-old.
This is probably one of the reasons van Dijk lost his patience after the 1-1 draw against Ecuador. Instead of publicly ignoring van Basten’s statements, as is usually the case in such cases during a tournament, he now shot back.
“Am I failing as a captain? What should I do with this information? I always go ahead. I lead the team as best as I can,” said van Dijk. And followed up: “Van Basten never sees anything positive. It’s always easy to talk from the studio.”
The defender can give the sporting answer on Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Qatar. If the team reaches the round of 16, the opponent comes from group B. If things go silly, the opponent is called England.
Before the game against Spain, the tension in the DFB team and coach Hansi Flick is great. After the 2-1 defeat against Japan, the German national team is already facing a first final on Sunday. A defeat after the 2018 World Cup would mean losing the preliminary round again.