Virgil van Dijk is relishing the challenge presented by Kylian Mbappe as the Netherlands tackle France in a Euro 2024 qualifier.
The Oranje begin their qualification campaign under Ronald Koeman at the Stade de France in Paris, where a depleted squad faces a stern test against the World Cup runners-up.
A viral infection has ravaged the Dutch squad this week, with the France clash followed by a match against minnows Gibraltar in Rotterdam on Monday, leading to five players being sent home.
That could make the task of keeping new France captain Mbappe quiet a difficult one, though Van Dijk was keen to stress the Paris Saint-Germain superstar is not the only threat to be wary of.
“Football is played with 11 against 11, not one against one. Those moments will arise, but then it’s important to defend and be well organised. We need to help each other out when somebody gets dribbled past,” the Liverpool defender said in a press conference.
“However, it’s crystal clear that Kylian Mbappe is a world-class player. He can make the difference, that’s clear. We need to do well, both defensively and offensively.
“If our attackers are performing well, that also makes things easier for us as defenders. We need to do things together.
“I’m looking forward to it, and I get the feeling from this group that I’m not the only one.”
— OnsOranje (@OnsOranje) March 23, 2023
Koeman will not be able to call upon Matthijs de Ligt or Van Dijk’s club-mate Cody Gakpo, with the duo among the contingent to come down with illness, while Frenkie de Jong is unavailable through injury.
Though that leaves significant voids to fill, Van Dijk is confident other players can be counted on.
“Of course, it’s a let-down, but, on the other hand, everybody who gets called up to this squad is good enough to play in this squad,” he added.
“We’ll miss Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, the others as well. Everybody has their role in this group, but without them, others will have to step up. I am confident everyone will do so.”