Liverpool go to Germany to play Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday night, with the tie finely balanced at 0-0 from the first leg.
One of Bayern’s main threats is Robert Lewandowski. The Polish striker has scored eight goals in this season’s competition, which is more than anybody else. Virgil van Dijk, who will return to the Liverpool team after missing the first leg due to suspension, will be tasked with keeping the striker quiet during the game. And he admits he will have to be at his best against Lewandowski.
“You need to be aware of the qualities of every striker you face, as I always am, but sometimes you need to be smart and more than 100 per cent ready for anything,” Van Dijk told Uefa.com [via Liverpoolfc.com].
“If he’s trying to run at you, trying to get past you, you need to be ready for that as well. You don’t need to give any opportunities to those strikers because they will punish you and they will score.”
The Reds are attempting to qualify for the quarter-final of the Champions League, while also continuing to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title. Van Dijk is enjoying the pressure involved with playing for Liverpool in these huge games, though.
“There’s always pressure at a big club. I’d rather play with pressure than without,” he added.
“I’m very proud to play for all these fans, for the manager, with these fantastic players and to wear the shirt every game. To play with pressure is always a good thing. I like to play with pressure.”
Wednesday’s game in Bavaria will be huge, but the return of Van Dijk could be a big factor in the game. He has established himself as one of Europe’s best defenders, and a fit and firing Van Dijk can make a difference in any game.