Ferdinand Details Van Dijk Defending Shortfalls Before Reds’ Madrid Defeat

Ferdinand Details Van Dijk Defending Shortfalls Before Reds’ Madrid Defeat
Liverpool, England, 21st February 2023. Former Manchester Utd player Rio Ferdinand walks in front of the Kop during the UEFA Champions League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture credit should read: Andrew Yates / Sportimage - Photo by Icon sport

Rio Ferdinand has suggested that Virgil van Dijk’s disappointing season for Liverpool means he cannot be compared to some of the game’s all-time greatest central defenders.

Ex-Manchester United defender Ferdinand, widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s all-time best central defenders, believes that John Terry, Nemanja Vidic, and Vincent Kompany have never endured a rough a patch as Van Dijk, with his Liverpool teammates also experiencing a difficult season.

Ferdinand Critical of Van Dijk Defending Pre-Madrid Defeat

Before the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Real Madrid on the road on Wednesday, which eliminated them from the Champions League with a 6-2 aggregate loss, the former Man United center back said “great center-halves” don’t have a season like Van Dijk is experiencing.

“There are phases in your career when things don’t go to plan,” Ferdinand said, “But you look at great centre-halves like Vidic, Kompany, [Sol] Campbell, Terry, Jaap Stam they don’t have a season off or big periods like eight to nine games off.”

“The form of the team plays a part though and it does have an impact and sometimes you’re as good as team around you,” he added, “He hasn’t had the team performing in the way that suits his style of play.”

Owen Defends Van Dijk – ‘He’s Getting Exposed’


Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen then attempted to explain Van Dijk’s ongoing struggles after he was also exposed in the lead up to Karim Benzema’s late winner on Wednesday. Owen concluded that the Reds’ midfield problems have led to the 31-year-old defender being exposed.

“When Liverpool are playing well you don’t have much to do, they win the ball at the front,” Owen added in his pre-match punditry.

“The problem is they leave themselves exposed so it’s a difficult position to play in if your team isn’t functioning well,” Owen stated, “It’s difficult at the moment because he’s getting exposed in one-vs-ones.”

“If they are playing well you don’t even notice him and he just mops up everything,” he added.

Last May, however, Owen claimed that Van Dijk was “the best center-back of all-time” after Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League.

The Reds would go on to lose the final to Real Madrid though.

“He probably scored a few more goals, not much, but we’re talking about the greatest here,” he affirmed to the bemusement of fellow pundit Ferdinand.

“As I’ve said, Rio was the best center-half I ever played with,” Owen said, “But with Van Dijk, as a center-back I look at him and think: what do you do against him?”

“He’s bigger than everyone, he’s faster than everyone, he’s stronger than everyone, he’s brilliant on the ball, he scores goals,” he added, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Following their Champions League knock-out, Liverpool don’t face into another fixture until April 1st, when they take on rivals Man City at the Etihad following the international break.

City are still in contention for the title and the Reds will no doubt want to ensure they perform and put a dent in the Manchester club’s title hopes.



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