Virgil van Dijk fired back at Dutch legend and former striker Marco van Basten who criticized him for his performance against Ecuador in the Netherlands’ Group A game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Netherlands were held to a 1-1 draw by the South Americans, delaying their qualification to the Round of 16. It’s all to do for the Netherlands on their penultimate group game against Qatar to secure a place in the knockouts.
The Netherlands led the game after just six minutes with Cody Gakpo firing them in front. However, it looked as if that was from the Dutch team, who forgot to attack after taking the lead. Ecuador dominated them despite being a goal down and constantly troubled the Dutch backline.
However, Van Dijk and co were able to sustain the Ecuadorian pressure until the first half, but the South Americans picked up from where they left off in the second 45 minutes.
Enner Valencia brought his team level in the 49th minute, scoring from a rebound from Pervis Estupinán’s shot. van Basten, who has been a constant critique of Virgil van Dijk once again had a go at him, blaming Liverpool for Valencia’s goal.
It’s easy to talk from the studio – Virgil van Dijk slams the country’s legend
Van Basten has often criticized Virgil van Dijk for his performances, be it for Liverpool or the Netherlands. It almost seems as if the three-time Ballon d’Or winner just loves to have a got at the 31-year-old defender no matter what.
Back in September, Van Basten had slammed Van Dijk for his displays during the Netherlands’ UEFA Nations League games against Poland and Belgium, despite the Dutch churning out duel victories. He had told ZiggoSport:
“Virgil van Dijk is actually the best man but does the least in terms of the initiative. It is actually very strange that such a very good player does so little for the Dutch national team in the build-up.”
Now, after the Ecuador draw, Van Basten went on another tirade against the defender who is often referred to as ‘rock’ by both his national as well as club teammates. The former AC Milan striker told NOS in his post-match analysis:
“Van Dijk is just waiting and watching him shoot,’ he said. ‘What is he looking at? He needs to be on top of him. He just lets him shoot. He doesn’t take the lead. He takes care of nothing in the team. He makes a sound, but he doesn’t say anything. This is what he does.”
Responding to the comments of his country’s legendary striker, who led them to the famous 1988 EUROs triumph in West Germany, Van Dijk backfired:
“I don’t think he is ever positive, so what am I supposed to do with it? It’s easy to talk from the studio. Me failing as a captain? What do you want me to do with that info? I am always upfront. I lead the team the best way possible.”
Virgil van Dijk defended himself after Van Basten accused him of not giving enough for the national team. While that may not be the narrative here, the Liverpool player indeed has experienced a massive drop in his form, ever since that ligament rupture injury he suffered during the 2020/21 season.
His displays have been questionable for Liverpool, especially the one in last season’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
This season as well, Van Dijk and Liverpool have started on the wrong foot as the Red sit 6th in the Premier League, already considered out of the title race. They have conceded a significant 17 goals in just 14 games and managed only 4 clean sheets so far.
The center-back however needs to step up massively in Qatar, if the Netherlands is to do deep in the tournament. His failure to close down Estupinán led to the midfielder firing a shot at the Dutch keeper who rebounded it in the path of Valencia to score the equalizer.