De Boer adds voice to chorus against friendlies

AMSTERDAM • Netherlands coach Frank de Boer questioned the need for international friendlies in an already congested calendar after losing two players to injuries in his side’s 1-1 draw at home to Spain on Wednesday.

Centre-back Nathan Ake was taken off early with a muscle injury and will miss the Netherlands’ Nations League double header with Bosnia and Poland.

Right-back Hans Hateboer was also brought off at half-time after clashing heads with Spain’s Jose Gaya, who had to be taken off immediately for Luis Enrique’s side.

Spain’s Sergio Canales opened the scoring in the 18th minute, before Donny van de Beek equalised for the home side.

“I don’t think this game needed to be played,” said de Boer, who has gone four matches without a win since his appointment in September. “Money is very important but we also need to look after our players. All interested parties need to sit down and talk because the health of our players is important. Decisions need to be made.”

With European domestic seasons starting a month later than usual due to the Covid-19 pandemic, international sides have been playing three matches instead of the usual two within two weeks. Clubs are also under greater strain due to the shortened season, with sides in the Champions League and Europa League forced to play three European fixtures in three weeks.

De Boer’s criticism at the fixture pile-up comes after Liverpool defender Joe Gomez suffered a knee injury training with England on Wednesday ahead of a friendly with Ireland, prompting coach Gareth Southgate to speak out on the demands placed on players.

Elsewhere, Germany earned a 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic in a friendly but failed to impress as they prepare to face Ukraine tomorrow and Spain on Tuesday in the Nations League.

Joachim Low’s side secured the win when Philipp Max cut back for Luca Waldschmidt to tap in after 13 minutes.