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Virgil van Dijk to face 'stupid' rival who left Liverpool locker room 'upset'

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


England's Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands on Wednesday is expected to be a classic and a number of Liverpool players will be on show as both sides aim to reach Sunday's showpiece final in Berlin.

Reds defender Virgil van Dijk and forward Cody Gakpo have been leading the way for the Oranje, while Trent Alexander-Arnold has frequently appeared for the Three Lions - most notably converting the winning spot kick in Saturday's quarter-final penalty shoot-out victory over Switzerland.

Midfielder Ryan Gravenberch is also part of the Netherlands squad, while Joe Gomez will be on the bench for England, but there will be a few other familiar faces, in particular, for Van Dijk to do battle with throughout the 90 minutes in Dortmund.

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What with plying his trade in the Premier League with the Reds, Van Dijk is well-informed of the majority of the England squad and what they are capable of. In fact, the Dutchman has previous history with one member of the Three Lions set up who was branded "stupid" by former teammate Gini Wijnaldum.

Reds fans may recall the unsavory challenge from Three Lions no.1 Jordan Pickford on Van Dijk during a Merseyside derby in the 2020-21 Covid season, with the Dutchman left needing knee surgery after suffering cruciate ligament damage.

Despite being reviewed by VAR, Pickford's challenge on Van Dijk was not deemed a red card offense, while Liverpool were not awarded a penalty because Van Dijk had initially been in an offside position prior to the reckless challenge.

Jordan Pickford flies into a disgustingly reckless challenge on Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk. It would rule the Dutchman out for close to a year.
Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious injury following a reckless challenge from England and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in October 2020 -Credit:John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Following the game, Wijnaldum used some strong words to describe the incident. He said: "Of course we are upset. The way Pickford went into the challenge was completely, in my opinion, stupid. I believe that he didn't want to injure Virgil the way he injured him, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care about what happened after the tackle."

Jürgen Klopp also echoed those thoughts, saying the referee's decision for Pickford's challenge was "difficult to accept" and that only his defender was "suffering with the consequences".

Now, however, more than three-and-a-half-years down the line, Van Dijk has the perfect opportunity to get his revenge on the Everton shot-stopper by helping to knock England out of Euro 2024 and securing their place in the final. The towering center-back's priority will be to keep a clean sheet, but it will be no surprise to see him trying to score down the other end, too.