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May 28, 2022 at 8.36pm UK at Stade Auguste Delaune
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Liverpool vs. Real Madrid player duels: Virgil van Dijk or David Alaba?

Ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Sports Mole team discuss who is the better centre-back - Virgil van Dijk or David Alaba?

Some of the world's best players will be on show in Paris on Saturday as Liverpool and Real Madrid go head to head in the biggest club game in football - the Champions League final.

It is the third time the two famous clubs have met in a European Cup final - a record for a single fixture - with the past two split one apiece, Liverpool winning in Paris in 1981 before Real Madrid lifted the trophy in 2018.

Ahead of the blockbuster fixture between two of Europe's most decorated teams, the Sports Mole team have compared every player likely to start the match for both sides in Paris.

Here, we discuss whether Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk or Real Madrid's David Alaba is the better centre-back.

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk on May 14, 2022© Reuters

Barney Corkhill, Editor

VERDICT: Virgil van Dijk

It speaks volumes that a player as good as David Alaba - someone who has won the league title for 10 consecutive seasons and has 29 trophies to his name - does not even get a look-in for this head to head.

Alaba may be one of the best defensive players of his generation, but such is Virgil van Dijk's dominance since joining Liverpool that he has already been thrust into the conversation of the greatest defenders of all time.

There is simply no weakness in the Dutchman's game; his pace is deceptive, he can match almost any striker for strength and his ability in one-on-one situations is already legendary, to the extent that most forwards do not even bother trying to take him on now.

Add to that his ability on the ball, with his sweeping diagonal passes a big reason why Liverpool's wide players enjoy such good numbers themselves, and you have one of the most complete centre-backs to have ever graced the game.

Van Dijk's overall standing in that list may end up being decided by his trophy haul as well as his actual ability, but I struggle to recall seeing a more dominant and unbeatable centre-back.

Alaba has been and remains a great player, and it is worth noting that he is equally adept at centre-back as he is at left-back or even left-wing, so he beats Van Dijk when it comes to versatility, but in a centre-back head to head against Van Dijk, no player in world football would come out on top right now.


David Alaba celebrates scoring for Real Madrid in October 2021© Reuters

Ben Knapton, Senior Reporter

VERDICT: Virgil van Dijk

The Real Madrid man may have won out in the Militao vs. Konate pick, but this one is no contest whatsoever.

Coming back from that devastating ACL injury like he never left, Virgil van Dijk has been an imposing figure in the Liverpool rearguard as ever, while three goals and five assists is eye-catching for a centre-back too.

The ever-versatile Alaba has been a welcome addition to the Blancos books, but Van Dijk waltzes into my team, and Liverpool will be desperate to have the Dutchman at full fitness for the final.


SPORTS MOLE VERDICT: VIRGIL VAN DIJK

Virgil van Dijk in action for Liverpool on February 23, 2022© Reuters


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How you voted: Liverpool vs Real Madrid

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Real Madrid
43.7%
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Real Madrid's Eder Militao during the warm up before the match in May 2022
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