The Netherlands again admitted they had yet to impress at the World Cup but midfielder Marten de Roon insisted he and his team mates were searching for a solution ahead of Saturday’s last 16 clash against the United States.
The Dutch might have topped Group A but they have been criticised for failing to play with any conviction or authority in their opening three games in Qatar – victories over Senegal and Qatar and a fortunate draw against Ecuador.
“We are searching, that is clear. We hope it gets better, we all hope so,” De Roon told a news conference on Thursday, becoming the latest player to agree with the critics.
“But the first goal is to get through to the next round. We are not deliberately playing badly here. Maybe one of you has the solution?” he asked reporters.
De Roon was brought into play alongside Frenkie de Jong in their last game against Qatar where the Dutch delivered a languid performance against the already-eliminated hosts but did win 2-0 on Tuesday.
“We had to win the previous match but now the pressure is of course even greater. We can’t afford to make any mistakes now,” the Atalanta midfielder added.
“Of course, we would prefer to play everyone off the carpet and win 5-0 every time and become world champions, but it is not that simple. Winning counts on Saturday, but how we do it matters less. Even if necessary through penalty kicks.
“I don’t mind becoming a world champion without having played a good match. The positive is that we haven’t lost. That may also give us the confidence that it can only get better,” De Roon said.
Team mate Denzel Dumfries said the Dutch had been doing their homework on their next opponents.
“We have analysed them and they are a good team, they have a lot of energy. They want to play football, want to move forward and put on pressure. That benefits our game and certainly suits us,” he said.