Liverpool’s Virgil van Djik was aware of the threat facing his side after they set up a semifinal tie against Spanish giants FC Barcelona.
Much had been made Manchester United defender Chris Smalling’s comment about Barca playmaker Lionel Messi in the build up to the first leg between Manchester United and Barca. On the prospect of trying to stop the Argentine, Smalling had said: “I say bring it on.”
Then in the first leg Smalling inflicted an injury on Messi that left the Argentine bleeding. Van Djik who has been one of the best defenders this season both in the Premier League and the Champions League was not taking things lightly.
"How are we going to do it (stop Messi)?” he was asked. “I don’t know, we’ll see,” he said with a laugh.
“It’s going to be a great match-up for all of us," insisted van Dijk. "It’s about doing it all together, it’s never 1vs1, it’s never just me against a particular striker. It’s always us against everyone and I think that’s the only way we can defend well."
For Van Djik, he and his side were coming up against the best in the business. ‘And it’s going to be very hard and I think he’s the best player in the world but we’ll see.’
Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said he'll need "a few nights" to work out how to stop Lionel Messi when Liverpool come face-to-face with him in the Champions League semi-finals.
The Reds will face the Barcelona ace after they eased past Porto 6-1 on aggregate with a 4-1 victory in the second leg in Portugal on Wednesday.
“Thank God I don’t have to think about that tonight. I have a few nights. We are more experienced, that is clear. We had difficult away games and we knew it would be the same as at City and Roma last year. It is all good. A difficult game but we go to the semi-finals.
"It is first time for me to play Barcelona , apart from in friendlies. I am looking forward to that."