Tuesday, November 29, 2022

‘Enormous’: Liverpool star tagged ‘best in the world’ following World Cup display

‘Enormous’: Liverpool star tagged ‘best in the world’ following World Cup display

In an interview with Voetbal International, Netherlands teammate Denzel Dumfries referred to Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk as “possibly the best defender in the world.” Dumfries was ecstatic to have the Oranje captain back for the Qatar World Cup.

During the three UEFA Nations League matches missed by Van Dijk in June, the Netherlands conceded five goals.

Since his return to the starting lineup, the Netherlands have not been breached in any of their last three matches.

Van Dijk’s importance to the Dutch’s chances of advancing to the World Cup quarterfinals is evident from the statistics alone.

Even though the Liverpool giant had a few anxious moments during Monday’s 2-0 victory over Senegal, he was instrumental in keeping another clean sheet by blocking an Ismaila Sarr shot before Cody Gakpo opened the scoring.

“Virgil is one of the best, if not the best defender in the world. And then he also brings his enormous presence. Virgil is crucial to this group.”

As Dumfries himself notes, the 1988 European Champions lack the same grit without the former Southampton and Celtic colossus at the center of their three-man defense.

It’s difficult to imagine that Frank de Boer’s squad would have exited Euro 2020 in such a pathetic fashion if Van Dijk had been available, for instance, for that disastrous loss to the Czech Republic in the round of 16.

During a match in which Van Dijk’s vast experience unquestionably played a pivotal role, two players making their international debuts also left their mark. The Netherlands opened their Group A campaign with a hard-fought victory over African champions Senegal.

In the 84th minute, PSV’s talismanic forward Gakpo scored his fourth goal in just 10 starts. Andries Noppert, goalkeeper for Heerenveen, made his Dutch debut on the grandest stage imaginable, making a number of impressive reflex saves.

‘Enormous’: Liverpool star tagged ‘best in the world’ following World Cup display