Van Dijk: ‘In the first half there was a lack of pit and battle’

Captain Virgil van Dijk did not need many words to characterize the game of the Dutch national team against Italy, which won the Nations League game in Amsterdam 1-0: “Especially the first half was moderate to bad. There was a lack of pit and fight before half-time.”

The Dutch captain did complain about the pitch in the Johan Cruijff Arena, but did not want to use that as an excuse. “We did not succeed in putting pressure and were sloppy in ball possession. And they did it cleverly too. They have a lot of moving players who go from left to right and choose a good position. We didn’t get any pressure.”

“In the second half, we solved that by taking more risk. Then it was better with gusts and we also came to dangerous moments. But all in all it was a very mediocre game on our part,” said Van Dijk, who had also seen players getting tired. “For many boys it was again the first two ninety minutes in the legs

“Hard work not enough

Interim bond coach Dwight Lodeweges praised the opponent. “We’ve lost to a very good team, a top opponent who basically wants the same things as us, but did much better.”

“We played too far apart in the first half and didn’t help each other enough. After rest we were able to recover a bit. We did work terribly hard, but yes, just running very hard and working very hard is not enough. Because that also means that when you finally get into ball possession, you’re not fresh. We didn’t do very well in ball possession either.”

Lodeweges had anticipated that the game could be decided on the right side of the Dutch Team. That was true, but a Dutch response to the repeated appearance of Italian leftback Leonardo Spinazzola was lacking. “They really won that there, yeah.”

“They played very dynamically, with people on the outside or they came on the inside. And we had to choose. That puts you in too big a space and then you have a very big problem against them.”

Drawing table

Compared to Friday, when the Netherlands won 1-0 from Poland, Lodeweges had exchanged Steven Bergwijn for Donny van de Beek. That didn’t work out great. “Van de Beek fell in against Poland and did that very well centrally. And Ginie (Wijnaldum, ed.) did well on the sides. They complemented each other, including Hans Hateboer. But we just didn’t get around to that today.”

The conclusion was clear to the coach. “We’ve had it more often in the last two and a half years that we were looking for in the first half. Often we could correct that reasonably well in the second half, but it shouldn’t stay that way. We have to get back around the drawing board.”