Frenkie de Jong could laugh about it on Tuesday when he was confronted with the words of football pundit Rafael van der Vaart. A footballer like De Jong might have preferred staying in his hotel, the former international said midway through the eighth World Cup final against the United States (3-1) against the United States (3-1) in Nice.
Van der Vaart was pointing, in his eyes, to the expected way of playing the orange football. “I didn’t hear that,” De Jong said, smiling on the balcony of the St. Regis Hotel to the players in Doha. “We realize that there is criticism of the game and things like that. It’s not a bad thing at all. We also think we can play much better football on the ball. It’s the most important thing.”
De Jong went to the youth academy of Ajax, where playing attacking football is always important. In the 2018/2019 season, the 25-year-old midfielder almost reached the Champions League final with a team from Amsterdam, also because of his distinctive and attractive playing style. De Jong deserved to move to FC Barcelona, as the philosophy of football in general coincides with that of Ajax.
De Jong doesn’t mind the Orange using a different tactic and playing with a tight block at the back, he says. “As a football fan, you naturally prefer to see every team play at full capacity in attack. I also think we want to play offensively,” he explains. “It also depends on the form of the players and the choices that players sometimes make with the ball. If we lose the ball fairly quickly, it will also be difficult to play really offensively, because then you will be pushed back. It would be very naive to think: we leave five men in Introduction and we defend the rest. Then you leave a lot of space.”
With Argentina as the first opponent in the quarter-finals, de Jong believes there will be less pressure on the Orange players. Against the United States, the Netherlands national team accounted for 30 percent before the break. Of course it’s not good, says the playmaker. “The public’s expectations now are lower. Against Argentina, people find it makes more sense that sometimes the opposition has the ball. Against teams like the United States, people think we should have the ball pretty much.”
De Jong believes the words of national coach Louis van Gaal, who believes that the Orange can become world champions. “In Holland I sometimes had the feeling that the goal was to reach the final. But in my opinion that’s not the goal. You have to want to win the tournament.”
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