Virgil van Dijk's Analysis Behind 'Genius' Piece Of Defending Is Why He's The World's Best
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino perfectly summed up the influence of Virgil van Dijk after his side's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.
"That shows why Liverpool paid more than £70m for Van Dijk." he told Sky Sports.
"The legs are heavy and it is difficult to be clear to think and it is not his [Sissoko's] best quality but I am so happy with his performance and commitment to the team."
It was a season-defining moment that could have completely turned the Premier League title race on its head.
VIrgil van Dijk basically said "you're shit mate" to Moussa Sissoko. He was absolutely right too.- Ste Hoare (@stehoare) March 31, 2019
In the 84th minute Spurs burst on the counter attack when Harry Kane released Heung-Min Son.
Son then squared it to Moussa Sissoko, who was in acres of space, but the French midfielder couldn't provide the finishing touch thanks to a masterclass in defending from Virgil van Dijk.
Van Dijk positioned himself perfectly to block the potential pass, while closing down Sissoko, just enough to force him into a shooting position.
The defender forced the Spurs midfielder to have a pop on his weaker left foot and his shot went over.
Thanks to Virgil van Dijk's textbook defending of a 1 vs 2, that Sissoko shot didn't even register as a 'big chance' according to Opta. Various xG models gave it just a 12-14% chance of finding the net. pic.twitter.com/GsgnLf6uWj- James Nalton (@JDNalton) April 1, 2019
Van Dijk went on to explain his thought process behind this piece of defending after the full-time whistle, and it's clear that the Dutchman did his homework before kick-off.
"I see Sissoko and I know he's right footed" he said. "and Son normally finishes these chances, so yeah, I decide from that."
Most would have committed to either Son or Sissoko too early, but van Dijk was composed and diligent in his thinking.
And that is why he is one of the world's best defenders.
Any other defender and it's 2-1 to Tottenham. £75 million for Virgil Van Dijk is bargain of the century and I don't want to hear a word. pic.twitter.com/uEgolDtV7x- say it without crying (@AnfieldRd96) March 31, 2019
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown summed it up perfectly in his column for The Daily Mail.:
"It was a magnificent piece of defending. You will not find it in any coaching manual." he said.
"What sets Van Dijk apart is the way he thinks clearly in the most pressurised moments. He knew that if Son was put through, the ball would be in the back of the net. Sissoko, by contrast, has not scored all season.
Van Dijk positioned himself to block the pass at all costs while closing down Sissoko just enough to force him into a snap shot. His smart, instinctive thinking in the heat of battle earned Liverpool a crucial win."
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