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Van Dijk stars in Liverpool's thrashing of Huddersfield

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Roar Rookie
27th April, 2019
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As the clock ticked over 57 minutes with Liverpool up 3-0 against Huddersfield, Virgil van Dijk motioned his arms toward the Kop, urging his team-mates to move the ball forward.

It shows the measure of the man, and how Liverpool have ascended to the cream of Europe’s crop under his leadership.

For all of Liverpool’s attacking brilliance in a game that could have been a cricket score, Jurgen Klopp’s Dutch colossus was decisive once again.

Although it will be lost amongst the Reds’ attacking masterclass, Van Dijk put his side on the path to a five-star performance.

Naby Keita got Liverpool on the board within a flash but the game took a strange turn from there.

After the goal, Van Dijk waved his arms about, gesturing for calm.

In the opening 20 minutes, it fell on deaf ears.

The Terriers found space down the left-hand side particularly. If the same luxuries are afforded to Barcelona on Wednesday night, the travelling Kop may need a sangria or two to get through the 90 minutes.

So often as the great players do, Van Dijk took it into his own hands. Tired of the sloppy passing in midfield, he marauded over halfway before deftly finding Andy Robertson out wide.

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As ever, the end product was there. And so was Sadio Mane, reminiscent of his goal of Watford, rising between two centre halves before heading past Jonas Lossl.

With the PFA Player of the Year being announced in the coming days, Van Dijk did his chances little harm.

Like the PFA, many will point to Van Dijk’s defensive efforts as a sign of his strength.

Yet he is far more than that.

Liverpool’s spiritual leader is the conductor of Klopp’s symphony. The music rarely starts without the No.4.

Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are rightly acclaimed for their countless assists to Mane and Mo Salah.

But what must be noted is that Van Dijk sets them on their way, playing the ball perfectly in front for them to gallop onto.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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The Dutch captain is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, but he could play just about anywhere on the pitch.

Gary Neville said earlier this season Van Dijk would look seamless as a midfielder.

In essence, that is what he was against Huddersfield.

The deepest-lying of midfielders, whilst at the same time, the world’s best defender.

Sometimes you sit back and see a diagonal ball launched 40 metres and double-take to see if Steven Gerrard has pulled the boots back on. He is that good with the ball at his feet.

Two minutes into the second half, Van Dijk surged forward over halfway and swatted away the challenging Jonathan Hogg as if he was a schoolboy.

In February, the Dutchman admitted in his youth he was “a slow right-back, not good enough to play centre-back.”

What a change a few years has made.

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As he sat on the Anfield turf following a tussle with Steve Mounie, the collective gasp around Anfield was significant.

There was plenty of gulping and worry within Scouse minds. A team with one loss all campaign and Joe Gomez and Joel Matip in reserve were gripped by fear.

As he rose back to his feet, the Kop cheered in a way usually reserved for a bulging of the net.

Liverpool are back to their fluent best under Klopp, attacking with a directness we haven’t seen since the start of the season.

Admittedly, Huddersfield weren’t Liverpool’s toughest test.

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Yet to be one of Europe’s best, an attacking force must have an equally good defence.

For years, this has haunted Liverpool – brilliant in attack but so sensationally calamitous at the back.

Those problems are long gone with Klopp’s Dutch general now in control.

Van Dijk proved once again he is the ice to Liverpool’s attacking fire and the calm amongst the goal-scoring chaos.