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Netherlands players clear the air and are back onside

WOLFSBURG, Germany : Discussions within the Netherlands squad have cleared the air, after a poor performance in their last game at Euro 2024, and readied the players for their last-16 clash against Romania on Tuesday, midfielder Tijjani Reijnders said on Saturday.

At the tournament in Germany, the Dutch have made much of creating an environment within their camp where players can voice their opinions and, if necessary, also criticise, in frank conversations to help the team play better.

There was an in-depth and frank postmortem after they lost 3-2 to Austria in Berlin on Tuesday to slump to third place in their group and qualify for the knockout stage only as one of the four lucky losers.

It was a game the Dutch had been expecting to win.

"We've had some tough conversations but we're on the right track and everyone is on the same page. It is clear from now on that winning means we go through, losing is going home,” Reijnders told a press conference.

“I’ve watched the match again and saw what could be improved. We have to make sure it doesn't happen again. Romania is the ideal opponent to show how things should be done.

“They also play with a lot of intensity. We have to be much more careful with the ball and didn't have that at all against Austria,” he added.

On Friday, Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk admitted he had put in a poor performance and Reijnders also put up his hand on Saturday.

“Everyone had an off day, including me. That is something to learn from and do better against Romania. There is more pressure involved but that would have been no different had we had won against Austria,” he said.