Virgil van Dijk’s epic record of going 65 matches without any dribbling past him ended during Sunday’s Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.
Van Dijk was remarkable in Liverpool’s backline last season and was essential on route to Champions League glory. He also helped them finish with the Premier League’s best defensive record.
The most remarkable aspect of the Dutchman’s campaign, however, was the fact that not a single player got past him during matches.
The last time anybody had dribbled past Van Dijk was Newcastle United’s Mikel Merino on March 2018. So, it had been 65 games after the Spaniard had beaten him.
Since then plaudits and honours have come Van Dijk’s way. The most notable one, of course, was the PFA Player of the Year award for his displays at Anfield. Fans and pundits alike even consider him one of the world’s best and a potential Ballon d’Or candidate.
But OptaJoe revealed that the 28-year-old’s proud record ended on Sunday when Gabriel Jesus found his way past him at Wembley.
65 – During the Community Shield final, Virgil van Dijk was dribbled past for the first time in his last 65 competitive appearances (by Gabriel Jesus) for @LFC since Mikel Merino did so for Newcastle in March 2018. Human. #CommunityShield pic.twitter.com/24B6WFcKUw
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 4, 2019
Despite the setback, however, Van Dijk got involved in the action on the other side of the pitch against City. He nearly even scored an equaliser for City after Raheem Sterling put Pep Guardiola’s men ahead.
Eventually, though, the former Southampton centre-back helped the Reds draw level by assisting Joel Matip’s 77th-minute equaliser.
But Jurgen Klopp’s side couldn’t find a winner on the day as City keeper Claudio Bravo denied late efforts from Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri. So, the match went into penalties.
Although Van Dijk didn’t take a spot-kick in the shoot-out, which City won 5-4 following Georginio Wijnaldum’s miss.