Cristiano Ronaldo News: “van Dijk and de Ligt can stop the Portuguese superstar”- claims Koeman
What's the story?
Ahead of their UEFA Nations League final against Portugal, Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman is confident that the center-back pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt can contain five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo in the final.
In case you didn’t know...
Ronaldo was once again the star of the show for Portugal as the host nation demolished Switzerland to book their place in Sunday’s showpiece final.
The 34-year-old bagged another hat-trick for his national side on his international return after almost a year out, and proved why he is considered to be one of the greatest ever to embrace the beautiful game, if not the best.
Meanwhile, Netherlands passage to the final was far from easy. The Dutch side needed the help of extra time and some schoolboy error from the English defense to make their first final appearance of an international trophy, since 2010 FIFA World Cup final.
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk brought some element of calmness in the Netherlands camp against England after De Ligt’s shaky start to give away the penalty in the first half to begin with. Although, the Ajax defender did manage to compensate his error by scoring on the other half of the field but looked nervy all the time.
However, the Ajax prodigy, Matthijs de Ligt, has tasted success against Cristiano Ronaldo previously, when the Dutch club stunned Juventus in the quarterfinals of this year’s UEFA Champions League.
The heart of the matter
The Dutch manager has full faith on their star defenders to deliver a standout performance in the final. Speaking in the pre-match press conference, Koeman gave a reference of how both the defenders stopped Ronaldo in a recent friendly in Geneva.
“We played a friendly in Switzerland, not a long time ago, and De Ligt was stopping Ronaldo as well," Koeman told.
“It's not only Van Dijk who can stop Ronaldo.”
"But Ronaldo is good enough to create against really good defenders. That's the nicest part of football - you can't do anything because his quality is on such a high level," he added.
Netherlands will take on Portugal in Sunday’s showpiece final in Porto.