Matthijs de Ligt arrived at Bayern Munich from Juventus as the club’s big money signing and has since established himself as the starting CB in the Bavarians’ back line. However, he was oddly benched by former Bayern coach Louis van Gaal at the World Cup for the Netherlands, despite playing the full game against Senegal. Instead of sulking about it, De Ligt used it as a learning experience.
He said on an interview with Münchner Merkur/tz (via Transfermarkt.de) that the said experience served as motivation to improve at Bayern. “This situation shook me up,” De Ligt said. “I had to change something, try something new. In my opinion, it cannot be the claim of someone with my qualities not to be a regular player at a World Cup.” Although he didn’t play much at Qatar, he was fine with what happened. “No, it’s just the way I play. Maybe the coach doesn’t use me and that’s fine with me. I expected that. So for me it’s fine,” the defender clarified.
After returning from Qatar, the 23-year-old analyzed his situation and decided on what to do on his road to redemption. “I recovered well for two weeks, so that I can start training again in the last week of vacation,” the Dutchman said. “I feel more explosive and better in my body than before [referring to his improved diet regime]. That helps me on the pitch: If you’re fit, you’re a little faster — in the game with and without the ball.”
It can be said that it was all worth it as MDL has been one of Bayern’s key players and has formed a solid partnership with Dayot Upamecano (who bossed at the World Cup). Both players endured only two losses this season, both to Bundesliga teams, and managed to silence Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Our back line seems set for the future.