Rio Ferdinand has explained where Virgil van Dijk falls short against the greatest centre-backs after a “baffling” moment in Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side lost 1-0 at the Bernabeu, meaning they lost 6-2 on aggregate to be dumped out of the Champions League.
They had a mountain to climb after the first leg defeat but put up little fight to turn things around.
And Ferdinand questioned the defending of Van Dijk and centre-back partner Ibrahima Konate as Karim Benzema got the only goal of the game.
“That distance between one centre-back to the other at this stage with, by the way, one of the most deadliest, lethal strikers on the planet in this position, with the midfielder actually facing play as well, I’m baffled as to why one of those centre-backs doesn’t go: ‘right, I’m going to go attach myself straight onto him, I’m going to mark him’, and the other one can cover or get in front,” he told BT Sport.
Ferdinand also claimed “great centre-halves” don’t have “eight to nine games off”.
Ferdinand told BT Sport: “There are phases in your career when things don’t go to plan.
“(But) you look at great centre-halves like Vidic, Kompany, Campbell, Terry, Jaap Stam they don’t have a season off or big periods like eight to nine games off.
“The form of the team plays a part though and it does have an impact and sometimes you’re as good as team around you.
“He hasn’t had the team performing in the way that suits his style of play.”
Former Liverpool striker Owen agreed, also pointing out the lack of pressing as a reason for Van Dijk being exposed.
He added: “When Liverpool are playing well you don’t have much to do (as a defender), they win the ball at the front.
“The problem is they leave themselves exposed (at the moment) so it’s a difficult position to play in if your team isn’t functioning well.
“It’s difficult at the moment because he’s getting exposed in one-vs-ones. If they are playing well you don’t even notice him and he just mops up everything.”
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