The Netherlands’ hopes of success at Euro 2020 have taken a blow with the news that defender Virgil van Dijk will not be fit for the major tournament.
With the Liverpool star ruled out for the competition this summer, head coach Frank de Boer will be looking for others to step up, if they are to end the country’s wait for European success.
VVD Hopes Over for Dutch
There were hopes for the former Celtic and Southampton defender to shrug off his knee ligament injury in time for the Euros, but Van Dijk’s absence has now been confirmed by the man himself. Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia stand in the way of the Netherlands to progress through to the knockout stages of the competition.
And the Dutch must now look ahead to life without their star defender this summer.
If odds are a reflection of how a team is doing, the loss of Van Dijk will be keenly felt. Currently available at 12.25 to win Euro 2020 with Marathonbet, and title contenders on a host of other sites available on comparison sites like football betting, it is unclear whether this will remain the case.
While there is no doubting the talent still in the Dutch side, Van Dijk at full fitness would walk into most international sides and will be tough to replace.
Others Need to Fill The Void
There will be added pressure on others to help fill the void, and one man who has the talent to shine in Van Dijk’s absence is Matthijs de Ligt.
The Juventus center-back already has plenty of international experience at the tender age of 21. With 26 caps already to his name, much will be expected of the former Ajax academy star.
A player who has a bright future ahead of him, this summer’s European Championships are a perfect opportunity for de Ligt to announce himself on the international stage.
On the other end of the spectrum, Ajax veteran Daley Blind was the most-capped player in the last Netherlands squad named for internationals back in March. With 77 caps, the former Manchester United defender will also carry plenty of responsibility for making sure the Netherlands are strong at the back.
Nathan Ake, while returning from injury himself for Manchester City in the latter stages of their Premier League winning season, will also be pushing for starts this summer.
Who Shall Wear the Armband?
Without Van Dijk in their ranks, manager De Boer will have to decide who he wants to lead the side this summer. Georginio Wijnaldum looks to be the first-choice candidate, having led the team in the defender’s absence.
A club teammate to Van Dijk at Liverpool, midfielder Wijnaldum is a regular starter for his country and has over 70 appearances for the Oranje. De Ligt also has experience in captaincy after being handed the armband at an early age with Ajax, before his move to Italy.
However, De Boer might want to keep the added pressure off the youngster and stick with Wijnaldum.
The Netherlands has not won the European Championships since 1988, and without Van Dijk, the challenge of ending that wait for the title has got a whole lot tougher.