The 2019 final loss in the UEFA Nations League still plays on the mind for Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk, Voetbal International reports.
The Liverpool defender Van Dijk thinks that the Netherlands has an advantage compared to the last time the Oranje were in a Nations League competition.
During the inaugural edition of the competition, Oranje were in the finals but only managed to get a runners-up medal after seeing off England in the semi-finals in extra-time only to lose to hosts Portugal in Porto.
It is something that has frustrated the 31-year-old and according to the captain, the realisation that the Netherlands could win a prize was lacking at the time.
At the press conference, Van Dijk was asked if there is still energy left after such a long and tough season.
He said: “That can be difficult. But almost ten boys have already experienced the Nations League final. In that period there was perhaps not really the realisation that we were playing for a cup. That is now more alive, so that the energy is created a bit faster and easier. The energy and the level were very high during the training.”
In 2019, Oranje reached the final of the Nations League, but lost to Portugal.
He added: “After the lost final, we realised that we should have done better. That we as a group should have had a little more experience. Of course that was the first edition and we didn’t know what it was yet.
“But I’d like to hold up that cup, but we shouldn’t think about that yet. Croatia is a difficult opponent to beat, as has been shown in recent years.”
At the time, Van Dijk arrived late at the Orange as the winner of the Champions League with Liverpool. That was now the case with Nathan Aké, who won with Manchester City.
He told the press: “He came back to Zeist very late yesterday. Too bad it wasn’t the same as back then, when we were all clapping. But in the morning we certainly did.
“We are of course very happy for him, what he has achieved this season. It’s something very beautiful. That includes applause.”