Orange resigns to superior midfield Croats: ‘But could have won’
Disappointed Van Dijk: ‘Fought like lions, but you’re out’
Like a farmer with a toothache, captain Virgil van Dijk reported to the camera after the grueling 4-2 defeat against the Croats in the Nations League semifinals. “We fought like lions, but it wasn’t good enough. Very disappointing.”
After a roller coaster 120 minutes, in which the Orange played well before halftime, had to endure Croatia’s strength after halftime and still managed to force an extension deep into injury time, it was searching for words for the captain. “Good midfield. Two penalties. Must improve, but….”
In the extension, the number three of the last World Cup proved just a size too big. “I am proud of how we fought. At times we also showed very good soccer. But you’re not going to play in the final.”
Gakpo on penalty kick: ‘Stupid foul’
Cody Gakpo had a little longer to organize his thoughts. The Liverpool striker played a good game in the point of attack, but may remember mostly the lesser moments.
For example, he held Luka Modric in the sixteen, giving the Croatian the chance to go 1-1. “It was a kind of reflex. A stupid foul. I just shouldn’t do that, because you know it gets punished right there. Especially with such smart players, so I definitely blame myself for that.”
Trailing 2-1, the Orange – after Koeman’s bill – went all-or-nothing and Gakpo had an excellent chance for the 2-2. His effort went wide, but in the 96th minute Noa Lang ensured an extension anyway.
Gakpo: “In the extension we played a little more conservative. In hindsight you can always think: if we had done it differently. But this was our plan. In the end it doesn’t work out well, although I still think it could have gone either way.”
“That 2-2 really gave a boost. I feel we made the same mistake in the extension after that as we did against Argentina at the World Cup: we slowed down,” Lang said. “I don’t know how that came about. I just said in the locker room, ‘I had the feeling we should have just kept going…'”
De Jong: ‘I wasn’t good enough’
“I think they did deserve to win,” Frenkie de Jong revealed realistically. “At the beginning of the second half, we walked backwards too much. If you let them play soccer, they are good. Especially in midfield. Modric was very good. But Modric is usually very good.”
Where the Croatians were able to excel in the midfield, De Jong was instead constrained by the Croatians. “I think I wasn’t good enough tonight,” he said, looking mostly at himself. “I could have brought the game to me more. I didn’t bring enough.”
Self-critical De Jong: ‘Modric was very good, but he usually is’
Sunday at 3 p.m. the match for the third and fourth spots still awaits. From De Jong, it doesn’t have to be. “You are eliminated, so such a match is of no use anymore. Certainly for the Nations League it is not necessary.”
After beer shower, now cold shower Aké
For Nathan Aké, the contrast could not be greater. After winning the Champions League final with Manchester City, the defender had almost gotten used to a party, parades and beer showers.
As bonkers as teammate Jack Grealish – who still hasn’t processed his hangover – Aké didn’t make it. “A lot of partying, sleeping late. They were busy days. But by mutual agreement I got here Monday night. And I could just play. But after 120 minutes I felt the legs.”
Aké from beer shower to cold shower: ‘Big disappointment’
After such a great season, the defeat against the Croatians feels like a cold shower. “Definitely. This is a bummer, though.”