Van Dijk backs De Ligt to overcome shaky Juventus start

Matthijs de Ligt has remained calm despite his difficult debut for Juventus, according to Netherlands team-mate Virgil van Dijk.

Matthijs de Ligt endured a difficult Juventus debut   -  Getty Images

Virgil van Dijk backed Netherlands team-mate Matthijs de Ligt to be unaffected by a shaky Serie A debut for Juventus.

Former Ajax defender De Ligt received criticism for his performance in Juve's dramatic 4-3 victory over Napoli on Saturday.

The 20-year-old played alongside Leonardo Bonucci due to Giorgio Chiellini's anterior cruciate ligament injury but struggled to cope with Napoli's rampant attack in the second half and was partly at fault for all three goals Juve conceded.

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has defended the €75million centre-back, however, and Liverpool star Van Dijk echoed those sentiments.

"I saw Matthijs arrive very normally. Nothing was wrong," UEFA Men's Player of the Year Van Dijk told a news conference ahead of Netherlands' Euro 2020 qualifier with Germany.

"Everybody that knows him also knows that he always stays calm in these kind of situations.

"Of course, I spoke to him. But we don't need to tell each other a lot. I think it's also something you only talk about when you see each other for the first time again.

"After that, the focus is on the future and the match in front of us as a pairing. So that's what we did."

 

De Ligt's former club-mate Frenkie de Jong also switched to a European heavyweight in the off season by joining La Liga champion Barcelona, though the midfielder has been used in a slightly different role to the one he played for Ajax and typically occupies for the Netherlands.

"No, not at all. Those guys are amazing, they know that and we do too," Van Dijk said when asked if extra work was required to accommodate the duo in Netherlands' system.

"I think they will show why they are so important to us once again."

Koeman, meanwhile, refuted the suggestion Netherlands will be feeling extra pressure following its 3-2 home defeat to Germany in March.

"There's always pressure on us. Especially now against Germany," Koeman said. "From the outside, it may seem as though we have some pressure on our shoulders, because of our most recent meeting.

"We still have some spare games. I believe we can take a big leap with a good result against Germany tomorrow. In that case, the rest of the qualification will be a bit easier. If not, reaching the Euros should still be our main target, of course."

  Dugout videos