Soccer-Dutch defender De Ligt feels side could go far at Euro 2024


Soccer Football - Bundesliga - Bayern Munich v SV Darmstadt 98 - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - October 28, 2023 Bayern Munich's Matthijs de Ligt during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Angelika Warmuth/ File Photo

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt believes they could go far at the European Championship, even if they are lacking a standout star after Frenkie de Jong was forced out by injury.

De Ligt said there was sufficient experience in the Dutch squad to deal with the rigours of the tournament in Germany, which kicks off on Friday.

"It's good that we have a lot of guys at top teams in Europe,” he told a press conference on Thursday as the Netherlands prepared to play their first Group D game on Sunday against Poland in Hamburg.

“That’s very important for a tournament like this because it means we have the necessary experience playing against top players every three to four days. We have a lot of quality across the board. We have to take it game by game but I think we can certainly go far.”

Not having a marquee player could also turn out to be positive, De Ligt added.

“It means that everyone has their nose on the same starting line and are all pulling in the same direction.

“We have a nice, good group. It's about performance. We are working well on that. We have a group that can grow closer together, on and off the field."

De Ligt plays for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga but said travelling to Euro 2024 felt strange. “I live in the country and I know a lot of these places but it still felt like going on a trip,” he told reporters.

The 24-year-old has won 45 caps for his country but is not a first choice in defence.

“I know what I can do and what I can give to the Dutch team. If the coach sees it that way, it's great,” he added.

At the last Euros, he was sent off after handling the ball in their last-16 match clash against the Czech Republic, which proved pivotal in their 2-0 defeat and unexpected early exit.

“That's not something that crosses my mind anymore. I have grown a lot since and I feel comfortable in my own skin.”

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Toby Davis)

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