Van Dijk calls for calm as away day woes con­tinue for Reds in Europe

Western Morning News - - Sport - CARL MARKHAM, PRESS AS­SO­CI­A­TION SPORT

De­fender Vir­gil van Dijk in­sists Liver­pool have not be­come a bad team be­cause of their three Cham­pi­ons League away de­feats.

The Hol­land de­fender believes the dif­fi­culty of their group fac­ing Paris St Ger­main, to whom they lost 2-1 in France on Wed­nes­day, Napoli and Red Star Bel­grade has al­most been for­got­ten in the clam­our to high­light their Euro­pean woes on the road.

Liver­pool have lost three group matches for the first time, re­quir­ing them to beat Napoli 1-0 or by two clear goals in their fi­nal game to progress to the knockout stage.

And while that is be­ing por­trayed as the club's hopes dan­gling by a thread, Van Dijk has a dif­fer­ent view.

"We don't need to for­get that we played Napoli, one of the best teams in Europe; PSG, one of the favourites to win the Cham­pi­ons League; and ob­vi­ously the game in Bel­grade was not good enough," he said.

"We don't need to (think) we are a s*** team, ba­si­cally. It can hap­pen. But the frus­trat­ing thing is how we con­ceded the goals and then it's al­ways dif­fi­cult to come back.

"I don't know if there's any ex­pla­na­tion for that right now be­cause I can't think of one, oth­er­wise we should have used it al­ready.

"But now we need to look for­ward and the only op­tion for us to qual­ify is to win against Napoli, no mat­ter what."

Van Dijk was crit­i­cal of PSG's world-class play­ers un­nec­es­sar­ily re­sort­ing to the­atrics and games­man­ship.

Ney­mar was the chief cul­prit in the Parc des Princes as while the Brazil in­ter­na­tional pro­duced some classy mo­ments, in­clud­ing start­ing and end­ing the counter-at­tack which re­sulted in PSG tak­ing a 2-0 lead, he ded­i­cated far more time to throw­ing him­self to the ground and rolling around.

"Ob­vi­ously they're world­class play­ers but I don't think it's needed in the game at times," added the Dutch­man.

"Some­times they get hit and they will go down and some­times I think it's too easy and I'm get­ting so frus­trated. It's im­por­tant to keep your head cool but...

"Ev­ery time we made a foul they all came to the ref try­ing to get us a yel­low card. We should do the same at times and I think in the sec­ond half we did it bet­ter. It's not the type of game that I like.

"We still re­spect them how they are as play­ers be­cause they're world-class play­ers, but it's not re­ally nec­es­sary at times.

"But they scored two goals, we lost and that's it."

Liver­pool now re­quire one mon­u­men­tal ef­fort at An­field to get past Serie A op­po­nents Napoli next month.

It will not be the first time they have had to do it the hard way and just one de­feat at An­field - Septem­ber's EFL Cup loss to Chelsea - since Jan­uary will give them con­fi­dence.

"We know that there's only one chance left and we all want to take it. We're go­ing to do ev­ery­thing that's pos­si­ble," said Van Dijk.

"We need ev­ery­one's help. We need all the fans, we need ev­ery­one that comes to sup­port us that night to make it a spe­cial evening for all of us.

"We know it's go­ing to be tough - Napoli are a fan­tas­tic team with great play­ers, they have a great man­ager - but we need to keep be­liev­ing in our­selves.

"We al­ready do, I think, but at times (in Paris) it wasn't good enough and we need to be ready for that test."

- UEFA has opened dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against PSG for the set­ting off of fire­works.

Vir­gil van Dijk feels Liver­pool’s re­sults need to be taken in con­textMICAH CROOK/PPAUK

Liver­pool man­ager Jür­gen KloppDAN WEIR/PPAUK

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