Virgil van Dijk accused of 'lacking passion' by Dutch soccer legend

Virgil van Dijk was criticised for a poor defensive performance
-Credit: (Image: Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Rafael van der Vaart didn't hold back in his criticism of Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk - accusing him of a "lack of passion" following the Netherlands' disappointing loss to Austria on Tuesday.

The Dutch players, managed by Ronald Koeman, ended up third in Group D after their performance was riddled with chaos. The match began with an own goal from Donyell Malen just six minutes in, giving Ralf Rangnick's well-drilled Austrian team the upper hand.

Cody Gakpo levelled the score after half-time, and although Romano Schmid's strike for Austria was equalized by Memphis Depay later in the game, it was a rollercoaster of a match that ultimately did not favour the Netherlands.

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Marcel Sabitzer's late goal sealed the deal for Austria, securing the winners the top position in the group following France's draw with Poland. Van Dijk's defence was under fire, especially for the part he played in leaving the door open for Sabitzer's decisive goal.

His misalignment with the defensive line allowed the Borussia Dortmund midfielder to blast the ball into the net past goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen. Post-match, Van Dijk appeared downcast as he admitted: "I don't have an explanation for this performance."

Van Dijk's lacklustre post-game remarks drew immediate flak, with ex-Netherlands international Van der Vaart expressing particular discontent with his comments. "We played the way Virgil van Dijk just talked!" the Ajax legend said. "We just had to watch a disgraceful performance! I want the captain from our country to show some passion!"

The Netherlands team, known as the Oranje, had a shot at leading its group after triumphing over Poland and securing a draw against France. However, the team's defeat to Austria means Ronald Koeman's squad must now prepare to face England, the winners of Group C and pre-tournament favorites, in the last 16.