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Virgil van Dijk Named the Four Toughest Opponents and Did Not Include Cristiano Ronaldo

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk snubbed Cristiano Ronaldo when asked to name the toughest opponents he has faced in his career.

As one of the world’s best defenders, Virgil van Dijk certainly knows how to handle world-class forwards. He has been called to do so numerous times since joining Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018, in a deal worth £75 million, a world record for a defender at the time.

Since then, the Dutchman has won five major trophies with the club, including the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020.

The experienced international has faced the world’s best forwards both for his club and country. However, when asked to name his most difficult opponents, to the surprise of many, he did not include Cristiano Ronaldo.

Specifically, he mentioned Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Sergio Aguero, and Olivier Giroud, speaking on the “Rest is Football” podcast with Gary Lineker and Richards. He explained why he chose City’s Norwegian forward and his predecessor, Aguero, as difficult opponents.

“I would say Erling Haaland is a very difficult opponent, he’s very strong, a modern forward. It’s the immediacy. If you give them even an inch, they’ll punish you,” he said.

“It’s the same with Aguero. He didn’t score many goals against us, but ever since I played against him when I was at Southampton, he was always difficult; he could finish with his left or right, you always had to be at your best. I remember a goal he scored against us in 2018-19, he got in front of Dejan Lovren from a cross and finished so quickly.”

As for Giroud, the Dutchman explained why he appreciates the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker so much. “He was a link-up player, at that time with [Eden] Hazard, it was always Hazard who fed him, and he held the ball. He also scored good goals against me. I always felt he wouldn’t score, but he managed to score.”

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