Louis van Gaal and Virgil van Dijk in war of words over Dutch style of play

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Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal has hit back at captain Virgil van Dijk after the Liverpool star suggested he was not a fan of their style of play.

The Dutch boss decided to respond after Van Dijk made comments about their footballing philosophy, following their 4-2 friendly victory over Denmark on Saturday. The 30-year-old defender played the whole 90 minutes in Van Gaal’s 3-4-1-2 setup but was far from his assured normal self.

There was a heavy influence from the Premier League in the exhibition match, with Tottenham’s Steven Bergwijn netting a brace, with Nathan Ake heading home and former Man United forward Memphis Depay scoring a penalty for the hosts. Christian Eriksen marked his Denmark comeback with a consolation strike after Jannik Vestergaard’s early header, although the midfielder’s night was ruined when he was struck by a coin.

But despite playing some scintillating football on the pitch and coming away with a convincing victory, Van Dijk spoke of his dissatisfaction with the team’s tactics. The centre-back was part of the back three in a 3-4-1-2 formation, but revealed he plays his best football in a 4-3-3 formation — the same setup Liverpool use under Jurgen Klopp.

“Do I like the system? Well, I’m still in favour of 4-3-3 but I’m not the national coach and the national coach has a very strong opinion about it,” Van Dijk said.

And when it was put to Van Gaal, 70, that his own player had undermined his own tactics, the manager provided a cold-blooded response: “I know he has that preference, he always said this publicly,” he said, as quoted by The Mirror. “We already had this debate when I came here. The manager decides the tactics.”

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