Virgil Van Dijk Crucial For Liverpool F.C. Against Manchester City, Says Captain Henderson

Liverpool holds a 3-0 advantage over City going into the Champions' League quarterfinals second leg at the Etihad on Thursday, April 12.

Van Dijk at a pre-match press conference.
Jan Kruger / Getty Images

Liverpool holds a 3-0 advantage over City going into the Champions' League quarterfinals second leg at the Etihad on Thursday, April 12.

Liverpool F.C. soccer captain Jordan Henderson will miss the game through injury, but he believes that players such as van Dijk will allow Liverpool to stand firm against Manchester City once again and qualify for the Champions’ League semi-finals.

According to the Liverpool Echo newspaper, Henderson said, “Virgil’s form has been excellent.”

Since arriving at Liverpool from Southampton in January for a world-record £75 million, the 26-year-old Dutch international has helped to steer the Reds to two victories over City and a possible Champions’ League spot next year. Liverpool currently sits third in the Premier League table.

Van Dijk himself is not fazed by possibly lining up against City’s star marksman Sergio Aguero, who has recovered from an injury and will be hoping to lead City to an unlikely turnaround.

“If we defend the way we did the other night against them, it does not matter who plays as a striker.”

The Dutch defender has been a star performer in Liverpool’s miserly defense, which also features the likes of Dejan Lovren and Andrew Robertson. The Reds have kept an impressive eight clean sheets in their last 12 matches and have only conceded 15 goals since the start of the year. They were the first team to beat City in the league this season, which highlights the talent and discipline of Liverpool’s defensive unit.

Van Dijk makes sure that the Liverpool keeper wins the ball.
Van Dijk shields the ball from Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus during the first leg. Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

Van Dijk sees himself carrying on professionally for another 10 years barring serious injuries, which is very good news for Liverpool fans, but bad news for other teams in the Premier League and abroad. His initial contract with Liverpool runs until 2023, and the club’s owners will be keen to tie him into an even longer deal, per a report from the Telegraph.

“If everything goes well, I will play until I’m 36 or 37 hopefully and then football is over, so just enjoy it. That is why I started to play football and why I wanted to do it day in, day out. Sometimes you lose but, if you win, the feeling is amazing.”

If Liverpool manages to overcome Manchester City as expected, then a semi-final tie against the likes of Real Madrid or Barcelona awaits. Van Dijk and company will face another stiff defensive test, but first, they need to get the job done and make sure that they are as defensively compact as in the first leg of the tie.

Fans of The Reds will hope that their team can go one better than the 2007 Champions’ League final when Liverpool lost 2-1 to Italian giants A.C. Milan. The last time that Liverpool won the competition was in 2005 after coming back from 3-0 down against the same opposition.