It has been a difficult World Cup 2022 for most Bayern Munich players. Lucas Hernandez suffered a serious injury in the first game for France, while the German contingent had to deal with early elimination. Even for the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, it has been a testing period in Qatar.
De Ligt started the World Cup on a good note as he helped his team to get all three points against Ecuador in the first group. The former Ajax defender was not at his best in the game, but he still did enough to help the Dutch to keep a clean sheet.
The average performance against Ecuador did cost Matthijs de Ligt a place in the starting XI in the remaining games. Louis Van Gaal decided to select Jurrien Timber over De Ligt for the remaining group games against Qatar and Senegal. Timber also started in the win against the USA on Saturday, while de Ligt came on in the added time when the Dutch team was seeing out the victory.
The lack of playing time at the biggest stage is disappointing for de Ligt, but he is not upset with the situation as the Netherlands progressed to the quarterfinals. While talking to The Athletic on Saturday, de Ligt insisted that he has got more playing time at the World Cup than he had expected at the start of the tournament.
"“It’s not so frustrating, honestly. Every player wants to play but we are a group of 26 players. Honestly, I have played more than I expected to play at this World Cup. I expected to play nothing. I’m quite okay. We won together and we are in a quarter-final.”"
As things stand, de Ligt is likely to start on the bench against Argentina in the quarter-final. The Bayern defender has insisted that there are no fitness issues, and it is just a matter of the Dutch coach’s preference for other center-backs over him.
The Dutch defender also spoke about his time at Bayern until now. He is content with life in Bavaria and pleased that a move was completed last summer. De Ligt also insisted that he never held talks with Chelsea despite various reports in England suggesting that he was a top target for the Blues in the summer.
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Apart from Matthijs de Ligt, Noussair Mazraoui, Josip Stanisic, and the French contingent will be playing in the round of 16 of the World Cup in the coming days. France will take on Poland later today. Benjamin Pavard and Kingsley Coman had to settle for a place on the bench against Polish, while Dayot Upamecano has been handed a start in the heart of the defense.
Mazraoui recovered in time from injury to help Morocco qualify for the first knockout round of the World Cup. He was stretchered off against Croatia in the first game, but he recovered from the hip injury for the games against Belgium and Canada. Morocco will be playing against Spain on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Josip Stanisic will be in the squad for Croatia when they play against Japan on Monday.