Soccer-Dutch skipper Van Dijk understands criticism of his team at Euro 2024


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - Group D - Poland v Netherlands - Hamburg Volksparkstadion, Hamburg, Germany - June 16, 2024 Netherlands' Virgil van Dijk reacts REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WOLFSBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk said he understands the criticism of his team at the European Championship and agreed with some of the sentiments despite the Dutch picking up four points out of a possible six in Group D.

The Dutch edged Poland 2-1 in their opening game in Hamburg and were fortunate not to lose to a wasteful France in their second match in Leipzig, escaping with a 0-0 draw.

"Against Poland we played well for 60 minutes and created many chances," Van Dijk told reporters. "But we were also under pressure. Against France we were more compact as a team.

"Keeping a clean sheet against the World Cup runners-up is good. But in possession of the ball, we were very poor."

The Dutch team came under fire from TV pundits and newspaper columnists following the game against France but Van Dijk was unruffled by the criticism.

"Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, that's fine," he added. "It doesn't bother me, it's part of football. If it irritated me, I would have a very unpleasant life.

"Expectations are high, also among ourselves. We have a good team; I sincerely think so. We want to show it in big matches. After the match against France, we as players clearly said to each other what needs to be improved.

“We can and must do better than we did against France. We can still make progress in this European Championship."

The Dutch, who are almost certain to advance to the round of 16, complete their group fixtures against Austria in Berlin on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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