Commentators Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen came to the conclusion that Virgil van Dijk’s play has been declining after Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League.
Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen have been discussing what went wrong with Virgil van Dijk’s subpar performance and whether or not his teammates are also to blame.
Liverpool lost 1-0 against Real Madrid in the Champions League matchup, exiting the tournament with a 6-2 overall loss since they were unable to overcome their deficit. With their big loss in the first leg at Anfield, the team struggled mightily to build a comeback, failing to score a single goal in the encounter.
In the closing minutes of the contest, Karim Benzema scored the game-winning goal to seal Real Madrid’s victory. The loss virtually guarantees that Liverpool won’t take home any trophies this year because Klopp’s squad has had a relatively underwhelming season.
Many of Liverpool’s star players, notably Virgil van Dijk, who has battled to find his form, have had a dismal season. The Dutch defender’s performance was reviewed by BT Sport analyst Rio Ferdinand prior to Liverpool’s game against Real Madrid. Ferdinand said, “I feel there are moments in one’s career where things don’t go as expected. But, if we recall some of the top center-backs from prior seasons, such Sol Campbell, John Terry, Jaap Stam, Vidic, and Kompany, among others…
“I don’t recall those taking a season off or going through extended stretches where they lost eight or nine games. Yet that depends on the team’s composition. I’ll just say that sometimes you need a team to play around you, and his team hasn’t played around him in a way that would suit his style of play.
Former Reds striker Owen added: “Especially in this team, as they (the defense) don’t really have much to do when Liverpool is playing well. How many times did you see Liverpool win the ball up top when they were pressing from the front?
We all know that they expose themselves, which makes it a challenging place and position to play if your team is struggling. He is currently being exposed one-on-one all the time. Since he is not handling it well, and things are only getting worse. You don’t even notice that when Liverpool is performing well because he basically cleans things up and isn’t often called upon.
Due to Fulham’s participation in the FA Cup, their match against Liverpool has been postponed, giving van Dijk and the Reds a potentially advantageous gap in their schedule. The Reds’ final game before the break is against Manchester City, and they will play them again on April 1. Liverpool will fight their way back into the top four after their absence in order to qualify for the Champions League the following year. Van Dijk will be motivated to recapture his form from the prior season.