Finally, at the age of 31 years, four months and 13 days, Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk has played in a World Cup.
After years of waiting, the landmark moment finally arrived for the Reds No.4 yesterday. Thankfully for Van Dijk, it was a winning debut as his Netherlands team beat Sadio Mane-less Senegal 2-0.
Reacting to his performance, Dutch outlet AD gave the Liverpool defender a more than respectable seven out of ten.
The paper gave Van Dijk credit for heading away a goal bound Ismaila Sarr effort. AD also commended their captain for ‘leading the defence,’ commenting that it was a performance they’ve come to expect from the 31-year-old.
Interestingly, although Holland kept a clean sheet, it wasn’t all good. According to this paper, Van Dijk was the best of a bad bunch. Matthijs de Ligt scored a measly 5.5 out of ten for ‘making quite a few fouls,’ while Nathan Ake scored a 6.5 out of ten. Virgil holding things together, then.
Virgil gets off to a winning start
Van Dijk will be delighted this morning having navigated a really tough game against Senegal.
Although he was denied a reunion with former teammate Mane, the African Champions still carried plenty of threat without him.
Sarr is a one-time Liverpool target, while Boulaye Dia scored against the Reds for Villarreal last season. Nevertheless, Virgil handled it well.
Perhaps aided by the less-than-full stadium, Van Dijk was able to settle into a decent rhythm that belied the ocassion.
The first game can always be tough, and Holland have perhaps now beaten their main challengers in Group B.
As they look ahead to clashes with Ecuador and Qatar, they’ll be very confident of a last-16 place.
Knowing Virgil, he won’t get ahead of himself and will make sure his teammates adopt the same approach. The Dutch weren’t perfect and the Liverpool man will know that. Aside from the electric Cody Gakpo, they look decidedly light in attack.
The emphasis will be on keeping things tight at the back, then. Luckily for them, they’ve got the best defender in the world taking care of that for them. Congrats on your World Cup debut, Virgil!