Wijnaldum denounces Van Dijk’s absence as he emerges as captain of the Netherlands

The Dutch midfielder was proud to lead his country, but would have preferred to involve the usual leader

Georginio Wijnaldum is honored to be captain of the Netherlands in the 1-1 draw against Spain, but said he had mixed feelings about the absence of good friend Virgil van Dijk.

Wijnaldum took over the captaincy for Wednesday’s friendly from injured Liverpool and Dutch team-mate Van Dijk, who will likely be out for the rest of the season after sustaining significant damage to his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last month.

Stand-in skipper Wijnaldum played 45 minutes in Amsterdam – the upcoming Nations League games against Poland and Ukraine were given priority, revealing after the game that he had been in close contact with Van Dijk prior to kick-off.

“It is of course great to represent your country in this way,” said Wijnaldum, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Wednesday. But I would have preferred that Van Dijk had been here. Then he would have been the captain.

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“He makes our team stronger and is still very involved with us. I had him on the phone before the game – we were talking about my birthday. But I’ll call him again soon.”

Donny van de Beek scored his second international goal in as many games at the start of the second half to give the Netherlands a draw against a second team from Spain.

Sergio Canales had previously put Spain ahead with his first goal for the national team and national team manager Frank de Boer was unhappy with his team’s defense in the first half.

“We forgot to cover ourselves up,” he said. “I told them about it during the break and we improved it. The game then ran De Beek and [Luuk] de Jong put their opponents under pressure more quickly. “

De Boer has been winless in four matches since he replaced Ronald Koeman as coach, but hopes that this point will come to an end in the home game against Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday.

“Of course I would have liked to win the game,” he said. “Let’s do that against Bosnia.”

Owen Wijndal, 20, was the star for the Netherlands during his second senior outing.

The left back clears more tackles (three) than any home player, while no one turned over possession (seven) and intercepted the ball (twice) more often.

“He was fantastic,” said De Boer. “He made a very good impression today. He did a fantastic job and was a lot better than on his debut against Mexico.”

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