This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
After six years in the international wilderness, the Netherlands will appear at Euro 2020 after drawing 0-0 with Northern Ireland to seal their qualification.
Although Germany currently top the group, the Oranje will join them in next year’s tournament after winning five of their seven matches so far. Their qualification process is not yet finished, however, with them still having one game to play against Estonia before ending their calendar year.
For that match, they will be without Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who will miss the encounter because of “personal reasons“. Considering the 28-year-old’s recent form, it is perhaps not the worst idea in the world for him to miss out on a game and rest.
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The former Southampton defender has been tipped to be a real contender for the Ballon d’Or, but that will be based more on last season’s form, when the Reds had the best defence in the Premier League, rather than this term.
Van Dijk has played in 18 games in all competitions for the Anfield outfit this time around – including the community shield, and the Reds have kept just two clean sheets during that time, conceding 20 goals. That works out at a ratio of 1.1 per match, which is a huge increase on the 0.68 per game last campaign.
Van Dijk has not been terrible, but considering he was recently named as the best centre-back in Premier League history by Vincent Kompany, it doesn’t fit in with the narrative.
He is essential to Liverpool’s title hopes, no doubt, but the recent level he has been playing at has not quite been to the same imperious heights he has set previously. His absence from this fixture against Estonia, therefore, is fantastic news for Jurgen Klopp.
It will allow his star £90m-valued defender – as per Transfermarkt – to take a break and rejuvenate a little before a busy upcoming period.