• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Van Dijk omits Ronaldo from list of toughest opponents

Van Dijk

Liverpool’s defensive stalwart, Virgil van Dijk, has omitted Cristiano Ronaldo from his list of toughest opponents faced, despite encountering the Real Madrid legend on multiple occasions.

Since his £75 million move to Liverpool in 2018, Van Dijk has solidified his status as one of the world’s premier defenders, contributing to his team’s successes in various competitions, including the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup.

Despite facing Ronaldo in significant matches such as the 2018 Champions League final, the Portuguese star did not feature in Van Dijk’s selection. Instead, the Dutchman highlighted Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Sergio Aguero, and Olivier Giroud as his most challenging adversaries.

Speaking on The Rest Is Football podcast, Van Dijk elaborated on his choices, particularly praising the directness and strength of Erling Haaland, describing him as a modern-day striker who capitalizes on any defensive lapses.

“I would say Erling Haaland is a very difficult opponent, he is very strong, a modern-day striker,” Van Dijk said.

“It’s the directness. If you give them an inch then they will punish you.”

Regarding Sergio Aguero, Van Dijk emphasised the Argentine’s ability to pose a threat from various angles and finishes, recalling a goal scored against his former team Southampton that showcased Aguero’s clinical prowess.

Despite Olivier Giroud’s modest goal-scoring record in the Premier League, Van Dijk acknowledged the Frenchman’s effectiveness as a link-up player, particularly in tandem with Eden Hazard.

“It’s the same with Aguero. He didn’t score many goals against us, but since I played against him when I was at Southampton he was always a handful, he could finish with his left or right, but you always had to be at your best.

“I remember one goal he scored against us in 2018-19, he came in front of Dejan Lovren from a cross and finished it so quickly.”

Van Dijk noted Giroud’s ability to hold up play and score crucial goals against his teams.

While Ronaldo’s absence from Van Dijk’s list may raise eyebrows, the defender’s selection reflects the diverse range of challenges he has encountered on the pitch, highlighting the unique strengths and strategies of each opponent he has faced.