Pundits Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen have been talking about Virgil van Dijk’s poor form in the aftermath of Liverpool’s Champions League exit.
Liverpool failed to mount a comeback against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night, losing 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu and crashing out of the competition with a 6-2 defeat on aggregate.
After suffering a crushing setback at Anfield in the first leg, Jurgen Klopp’s players were unable to score a single goal in their comeback attempt.
Instead, it was Real Madrid who came out on top, with Karim Benzema scoring late on to seal the victory, if it wasn’t already.
The result all but confirms that Liverpool will not win any silverware this season, with Klopp’s team having endured a dismal campaign.
It has also been a difficult season for many of the Reds’ superstars on an individual level, particularly Virgil van Dijk, who has struggled for form throughout the season.
He has failed to maintain his form from previous years when he was regarded as the best centre-back in the world, as the Reds as a whole have faltered this season under Jurgen Klopp.
Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen on Van Dijk’s poor form
While speaking about the 31-year-old’s form, Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “I think there are phases in your career where things don’t go to plan. But you look at the great centre-halves in years gone by, John Terry, Jaap Stam, Vidic, Kompany, Sol Campbell…the list goes on.”
“I don’t remember those having a season off, or big periods of the season where they had eight or nine games where they were struggling. But the form of the team has an affect on that. That’s the one thing I will say, sometimes you need a team performing around you, and he hasn’t had a team performing around him in a way that would suit his style of play.”
Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen added that he feels the decline in Liverpool’s pressing structure has had an impact at the back, where Van Dijk and the Reds’ other defenders have failed to make up for the dearth of intensity from the whole structure.
Owen said: “Especially in this team, because when Liverpool are playing well, they (the defence) don’t really have much to do. When they are pressing from the front, how many times did you see Liverpool winning the ball up the top?
“But the problem is that they leave themselves exposed, we all know that, so it’s a difficult place and position to play if your team is not playing well. He is getting exposed all the time at the moment, one-v-one. Because he is not dealing with it well, and it’s getting worse and worse and worse. When Liverpool are playing well, you don’t even notice that because he just mops everything up and he rarely gets called upon.”
The Dutch international will have to pick his form if Liverpool wants anything positive to look after in this season.
Next Up for the Reds will be a clash against their rivals and current Premier League Champions Manchester City.