The two nations are paired in a three-team group despite having wildly contrasting fortunes of late; Netherlands didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup and are in a period of restructuring, while France won the tournament in Russia this summer.
Both were named in Ronald Koeman’s XI at the Stade de France, while there was also plenty to watch for from a Liverpool supporter perspective, both for the club’s past and future.
The Reds are up against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League group stage, and several players in the France squad play a key role for PSG.
Alphonse Areola started in goal, Kylian Mbappe up front and defender Presnel Kimpembe was on the bench.
Van Dijk and Wijnaldum were heavily involved as their nation were naturally second-best for most of the encounter, and the captain in particular put in a mixed performance.
For the most part, Van Dijk was marking Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud, but also found himself against Mbappe on one notable occasion.
The PSG striker had already put France ahead when the duo were pitted in a foot race in a France counter-attack—and Van Dijk stood up brilliantly to hold off his man, keep pace and win the ball cleanly in a one-on-one situation.
Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for the match-winning goal, as a flat-footed Van Dijk was caught cold by Giroud running across him to sweep home a cross from the left.
As for Wijnaldum, he was busy in the centre of the park from a defensive viewpoint, but also had a great chance to score.
His powerful run into the box took him beyond the defence, but a right-footed shot was dragged wide of the far post from a difficult angle.
Former Red forward Ryan Babel had briefly gotten the Dutch side back on level terms, before Giroud’s winner.
Netherlands will face Germany in their second Nations League fixture, in Amsterdam on October 13.