Van Dijk hails Liverpool’s defensive strength from Salah to Alisson

Virgil van Dijk has hailed Liverpool’s ability to defend from front to back, with star turns prepared to shut down rivals in every area of the field.

An inability to keep clean sheets has stunted the Reds’ progress at times, with Jurgen Klopp seeing his side spring some alarming leaks.

He has, however, invested heavily in the likes of £75 million ($99m) centre-half Van Dijk and £65m ($85m) goalkeeper Alisson in an effort to keep the back door bolted.

Klopp’s famed ‘gegenpressing’ approach also demands that every member of his side works hard for the good of the collective cause, with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino expected to do their bit in the current side.

Van Dijk believes everyone at Anfield has bought into that way of thinking, with Liverpool currently boasting the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League – with five shutouts secured in eight games.

The Netherlands international told Premier League Productions after helping the Reds to go 841 minutes without conceding a league goal on home soil: “It’s credit to everyone.

“As defenders – and everyone in the team – we try to keep a clean sheet because we know if we do that we have a big chance to win the game.

“We always get opportunities, we’ll always be dangerous in front of goal and we’ll always create chances. So we know if we keep a clean sheet we have a big chance to win.

“How we defend all together, how we press together – it starts up front – we can make life difficult for everyone.

“It’s never easy to play through our front three; when you do, you come up against our midfielders, who are always putting pressure on you and never leave you alone. Then you come up against us at the back – and we have an outstanding goalkeeper as well, which helps a lot.”

Van Dijk has conceded just three goals at Anfield in his Liverpool career to date, with his presence having helped to turn the Reds into realistic Premier League title challengers.

Their quest to land that crown in 2018-19 is set to continue after the international break when they travel to Huddersfield.

Let’s block ads!

‘Real won’t sign Ronaldo cover for the sake of it’ – Roberto Carlos defends lack of transfer movement

Real Madrid have no need to bring in cover for Cristiano Ronaldo “for the sake of it”, says Roberto Carlos, with the Blancos right to bide their time in the transfer market.

Having seen the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and five-time Ballon d’Or winner head for the exits over the summer, the €100 million (£88m/$116m) generated from a deal with Juventus was expected to be reinvested into Julen Lopetegui’s squad.

Real did make a move to bring Mariano Diaz back to the club from Lyon, and handed him Ronaldo’s No. 7 shirt, but there were no marquee additions made by a side famed for their ‘Galactico’ recruitment policy.

Blancos legend Carlos believes that was the correct decision, with there still the option for a world-class performer to added in an upcoming window once all of the needs of the current side have been assessed.

The former Brazil international told reporters at a promotional event for the FIFA Club World Cup: “In football, there are so many great football players like Eden Hazard, Roberto Lewandowski and Neymar. Real Madrid are always after the best talent.

“At the club, there are some very good footballers even after Cristiano Ronaldo left. The president Florentino Perez stays calm and doesn’t rush to sign players for the sake of it.

“It is up to the club if they want to sign a player and it is important they identify players who can fit into the team’s style of play. If they find a player, then they will have to make a decision to try and sign him.”

Carlos added on Ronaldo’s decision to leave Madrid after nine trophy-laden seasons: “It is a decision that the footballer takes.

“He was playing for Real Madrid and we want to thank him for what he did for the club.”

Luka Modric Real Madrid 2018-19

While Ronaldo has left the Bernabeu, Madrid can still boast the current holder of the FIFA Best award the favourite to land the 2018 Ballon d’Or.

Luka Modric has become a key figure for the Blancos, amid much transfer talk of his own, with the Croatian midfielder proving that there is room for a fresh face among the elite.

“Luka is a very good player indeed. He is the favourite to win the Ballon d’Or. You don’t want Ronaldo or [Lionel] Messi winning every year and it is important for someone else to win,” said Carlos.

“Luka has everything and is a complete global player.”

Let’s block ads!

Anelka claims Bolton spell was ‘best of career’

Nicolas Anelka insists that his time at Bolton Wanderers was the best of his career.

The nomadic French striker played for the likes of Real Madrid, Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool throughout his career, and won numerous trophies, including two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the European Championship with France.

Nevertheless, Anelka says that his favourite time came in with Bolton, where he spent two years between 2006 and 2008.

Anelka was the club’s top scorer in the 2006-07 season as they finished seventh in the Premier League, qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

The Trotters struggled the following year, ending the season 16th, though the striker finished as their top marksman once again.

“It was the best moment of my career,” he told RMC Sport.

“I was happy to play with El-Hadji Diouf and other French players. I liked the way we played football back then. Simple : kick-and-rush!

“You didn’t have to dribble, you just had to fight. You knew the ball was going to come into the box sooner or later and you’ll have your chance.”

Anelka’s goalscoring exploits convinced Chelsea to spend £15m on him – Bolton made a £7m profit, having acquired him for a club-record £8m – and he would win the league and two FA Cups at Stamford Bridge.

Following that, the controversial striker played for Shanghai Shenhua, Juventus, West Brom and Mumbai City before retiring in 2015.

In total, Anelka played for 12 clubs in his career. He also earned 69 caps for France, scoring 14 goals.

Let’s block ads!

‘I’m not Casemiro!’ – Kroos hints at frustration with Lopetegui’s Real Madrid selection calls

Toni Kroos has hinted at frustration with Julen Lopetegui’s tactical decisions at Real Madrid, with the midfield playmaker telling his boss “I’m not Casemiro”.

The Germany international has reached the very top of the game after being given the freedom to express himself in the middle of the park.

A title winner in Germany with Bayern Munich and in Spain with Real, the 28-year-old also has four Champions League crowns and a World Cup winners’ medal to his name.

He has achieved all of that by getting on the ball in dangerous areas and making things tick for club and country.

Kroos has, however, been asked to sit a little deeper at Madrid this season, with Lopetegui looking for him to operate alongside Brazil international Casemiro.

That is not his most natural role, as he feels more comfortable pushing on, and hopes the Blancos’ approach will be tweaked as they seek to snap out of a four-match winless run which has delivered no goals .

Kroos told reporters ahead of a UEFA Nations League outing for Germany against the Netherlands: “It’s a challenge to reverse this situation.

“We’ve shown we can do it. We’ve always had phases like these. It doesn’t worry me.

“I like playing deeper, but I’m not Casemiro.”

Kroos has taken in 10 appearances for Madrid this season , one less than Casemiro has managed.

Lopetegui needs to decide if he is using them in the best possible manner, as the Blancos have become stuck in a rut.

Questions are now being asked of a manager who only inherited the reins at the Santiago Bernabeu from Zinedine Zidane over the summer.

Real return to action after the international break with a home date against Levante, with a Champions League meeting with Plzen then set to be followed by a first Clasico clash with arch-rivals Barcelona.

Let’s block ads!