Lionel Messi opened up on how difficult he found it to beat Virgil van Dijk during Barcelona’s Champions League defeat to Liverpool last season.
Messi and Van Dijk went toe-to-toe in last season’s Champions League semi-final clash, which saw Liverpool beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate.
The tie initially looked to be heading Barcelona’s way after Messi’s late brace wrapped up a 3-0 first-leg win. However, Van Dijk silenced the Argentine for the return fixture as Liverpool produced a stunning comeback to win 4-0.
The Dutch centre-back was simply sensational at Anfield by constantly marshalling Messi throughout. He also dominated the Blaugrana captain’s striker partner Luis Suarez to ensure the Reds of a clean sheet.
And now Messi has opened up on the difficulties he experienced against the Liverpool man.
“Van Dijk is a defender who knows how to judge his timing and wait for the right moment to challenge or jockey,” he told Marca.
“He is very fast and big, but he has a lot of agility for his height.
“He is fast because of its great stride, and he is impressive both in defence and attack because he scores lots of goals.”
Van Dijk’s outstanding progress not only helped Liverpool win the Champions League, but also saw him beat Messi to the UEFA Player of the Season award. However, the Barcelona star did get some revenge in winning FIFA’s Best award last month.
The duo will likely go head-to-head again in December for football’s most prestigious individual prize in the Ballon d’Or.
Currently, Van Dijk is the bookies favourite to come out on top with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo completing the top-three.