Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk has been receiving praise for his Netherlands performance, despite the country losing 1-0 to France at the Amsterdam Arena. It was an important match and the Netherlands already face a big task ahead of themselves to qualify for Russia 2018, but after the loss there’s probably more positivity around the Dutch national team than there was before the game.
Perhaps that’s because there’s a feeling it could have all gone much worse, with the danger a poor Dutch performance, and there have been a few of those lately, would lead to France running away with it, and killing confidence.
Many in Dutch football appear to be happy to feel it was an unlucky loss, with suggestions the referee was more favourable toward France.
De Telegraaf have a big feature on it in their Wednesday edition and former Dutch international Rinus Israel is quoted as saying about the Southampton player: ‘Defensively Van Dijk played very well. He won a lot of duels, also in the air and also in the build-up he was fine.
“The way Oranje now play, with little room at the back, Van Dijk is better and you can use him very well. When playing away from his own goal then it becomes difficult for Van Dijk, because he is not the fastest.”
It sounds like maybe manager Danny Blind has adjusted the style to suit his defenders, with Daley Blind playing at left back and also not the fastest. If it works for the Netherlands, and for Southampton’s Van Dijk, then it’s not a bad idea, but perhaps the Dutch weren’t quite as unlucky as some would suggest they were.