A superb performance from the Netherlands and Virgil van Dijk meant they wiped the floor with Germany over the weekend, running out 3-0 winners. Now, with this being a Liverpool site, we are not going to focus on the overall performance of the Netherlands, mainly, our attention will be on the ex-Southampton man. You could argue the case about Gigi Wiijnaldum as well, but the centre-half gets the spotlight for this article and this article only. Here we go.
We shall begin with Virgil’s only attempt on goal. Coming around the half-hour mark, it got Ronald Koeman’s side off to the best possible start. Speaking of which, what on earth is Ronald Koeman doing as manager of Holland? You shut your eyes for two minutes and all hell breaks loose. Never mind, moving swiftly on. To show the importance of van Dijk and his defensive partner, Matthijs de Ligt, the pair of them attempted more passes than anyone else in orange. With the exception of soon to be Manchester City player, Frenkie de Jong. That is, of course, if you believe certain reports. Let’s have a look at van Dijk’s pass location map from the game.
The Left Side Belonged To Virgil
As you can see, Virgil dominated the left-hand side of the pitch and left very little change for Muller, who had a below average game by all accounts. Just to really hit home van Dijk’s importance, of the 40.5% possession they had, van Dijk had 4.7% of it. Only beaten by the aforementioned de Jong and de Ligt. With this win over Germany, there’s a wave of optimism over Holland once again and big things will be expected at Euro 2020, especially if the squad develops in the way it should. Turning the light back onto van Dijk, let’s look at his clearance location map from the game. Yes, he did have the most on the pitch.
Interestingly, the majority (55.5%) of his clearances happened on the right-hand side. You could make a case for a higher percentage if you want to include the one bang on the penalty spot, but let’s not start any unnecessary riots. When you consider that de Ligt only completed three compared to van Dijk’s nine, it’s evidently clear what the difference is between the two. One would think, bearing in mind the above, that de Ligt would have more interceptions, right? Not exactly. Virgil wins that one as well, although it’s not really fair to call it a competition between teammates. We will though, no drama.
Arguably one of van Dijk’s biggest strengths is his footballing intelligence. Making the two interceptions as high up as he did shows a level of understanding that is difficult to find elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, the likes of John Stones have it, but it’s just that which can separate the best from the rest.
In closing, it’s fair to say that van Dijk more than led by example against Germany. Going into the game against Huddersfield at the weekend, van Dijk will undoubtedly be spurred on by his wonderful performance for his country.
Until the next time.