Virgil van Dijk (VVD) was recently named PFA Player of the Year, becoming the first defender to win it since the inaugural Premier League season.
A mainstay in the meanest defense in the league, the footballing world was licking its lips at the UCL semi-final encounter between Barcelona and Liverpool, and particularly, between the unstoppable Lionel Messi and the immovable VVD.
The game was played in the Nou Camp and some interesting events unfolded.
During the game, a lobbed ball was player over to Messi. VVD chased him down but Messi reacted by shielding the ball. While Messi was looking for a play to make, VVD can be seen gesturing to Robertson to assist him in defending against the clever Argentine.
It just goes to show that to defend against the phenomenon that is Leo Messi, even the best player in the Premier League needs a helping hand.
It’s true that Virgil has earned a reputation of being a world-class center-back and probably is the best in the business currently, but it appears as though even he knows that defending against Messi is not a one-man job; if indeed it is possible to defend against European club football’s top goalscorer.
Van Dijk and co’s efforts to keep Messi at bay went in vain, as the little magician pitched in with two goals, including a sumptuous free-kick as Barca ran out 3-0 winners at the Nou Camp, despite a dominant Liverpool display in the second half. Ex-Liverpool talisman Luis Suarez was the other goalscorer in the game, not holding back on celebrations against his former employers.
When asked in an interview after the Porto game on how Liverpool would defend against Barca and in particular, Lionel Messi, VVD said that he doesn’t know and that it has to be a collective effort.
And while strength in numbers is a good thing, it didn’t work out for Liverpool and they now have a mountain to climb for the second leg at Anfield.