Former Liverpool right back Glen Johnson has heaped praise on Reds centre back Virgil van Dijk for his performance against Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The Dutch international produced the game’s pivotal moment, powering home a header to put Jurgen Klopp’s team back in front, as Liverpool completed a memorable 3-2 win at the Allianz Arena.
Johnson was seriously impressed: “You don’t want to see people around you panicking, and panicking is one thing I’ve never seen him do,” he told talkSPORT. ” When players see him as calm as he is in every situation, it rubs off and everyone puffs their chests out and [then] have that belief in themselves.
“Every Champions League-winning team needs to have a big name like that. There’s going to be many times in the Champions League when you’re going to come up against world class strikers and Virgil van Dijk is the sort of player you need to put them to sleep,” he finished.
"Every Champions League winning team needs a player like Van Dijk."
“When you see him as calm as he is, it rubs off and everybody has that belief.”
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 14, 2019
Johnson is spot on, here. Van Dijk is a difference maker, that much is clear. We saw how much better Liverpool looked in the second leg compared to the reverse fixture at Anfield, and that’s because Van Dijk was playing. He affects every facet of the game and, as Johnson says, he instills his teammates with a sense of calm that simply isn’t evident when he’s not on the pitch. He is a truly world class defender and he proved that yet again on Wednesday. Bayern, one of the best teams on the planet, just couldn’t do anything to ruffle his feathers even a little bit. It was an awesome display and to cap it off with a goal was simply superb. As Johnson says, you will come up against top, top strikers at every stage of the Champions League, but Van Dijk is the man to render them completely ineffectual. He did it to Robert Lewandowski on Wednesday and it’s likely that he’ll do it to whoever the Reds face in the next round.