Liverpool head into the second leg of their Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday evening with a 1-0 deficit.
The Spanish side frustrated the Reds in the first leg, with their defensive setup restricting Jurgen Klopp’s men to zero shots on target on the night. It was a typical performance from Diego Simeone’s side, meaning Liverpool have it all to do at Anfield.
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Virgil van Dijk has recognised this and, as quoted by Sky Sports News, the Dutchman has compared the upcoming game to that famous comeback against Barcelona last season.
“We couldn’t give any chances away against Barcelona, either,” he said. “We will go with the same mindset as always. Hopefully win the game and play good football, but first and foremost, we have to deliver a lot of passion and hard work.”
No team this season has managed to score three goals or more against Atletico, with Simeone being recognised as a manager who flourishes in the defensive side of the game. The Liverpool defender has praised such a style of playing, further stating: “Atletico will be tough, they are a fantastic side. They are one of the best in how they play. They are aggressive and they have fantastic players who can hurt you on the break too.”
Despite Atletico’s reputation, Van Dijk believes that the pressure remains on the reigning Champions League victors, though he took a swipe at the team’s critics as he suggested there’s been some slightly hysterical reaction to their dip in form.
“The pressure is always there,” he said. “The thing is when you don’t get good results – we don’t get them too many times – the outside world can talk like we are in a relegation battle.”
This relates to Liverpool’s latest run of results, with the side picking up three defeats in their last five games. Many rival fans have enjoyed poking fun at the Reds on social media, despite Klopp’s men still sitting twenty-five points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Expectations on Liverpool have clearly intensified across the last two years, with Van Dijk recognising such a point. The Dutchman continues to be an integral part of Klopp’s setup, with his quality performances contributing to such high hopes.