Van Basten critical of De Ligt defending and lack of leadership

Van Basten critical of De Ligt defending and lack of leadership

Marco van Basten launched stinging criticism of Matthijs de Ligt’s defending and said he must become a leader after the Netherlands qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020.

De Ligt recovered from injury to make his first appearance of the tournament in a 2-0 victory over Austria at Johan Cruijff ArenA on Thursday, helping the Oranje win Group C.

The Juventus centre-back had a comfortable evening at the centre of the Netherlands’ back three, winning 80 per cent of his duels and not misplacing any of his 40 passes in an assured performance.

De Ligt won more duels (124) than any other Juve centre-back in Serie A last season, but the Turin giants only kept three clean sheets in the 27 matches he featured in.

Netherlands great Van Basten says the 21-year-old still has a lot to learn and wants to see him take more responsibility.

He told NOS: “He is a central defender and must convey more leadership.

“He must make himself heard, assert himself because he has to lead the defence. Instead, he just runs after his man, leaving a huge hole. 

“De Ligt went to Italy. to learn how to defend, but I don’t think he learned much there.”

The Oranje sealed their place in the next stage of the tournament with one group game to spare, but Van Basten thinks they will have to change their tactics.

“If we look at how many times [Maarten] Stekelenburg has to kick the ball, this is not a good thing. It becomes a kind of combat football,” the former Milan striker added.

“From behind, you need to have more vision and control to advance while playing football so you can dominate the game. But I haven’t seen it so far.”

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