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Virgil Van Dijk: "Very hard" to stop Lionel Messi

Van Dijk:
© Reuters
Jurgen Klopp's side booked their Champions League semi-final spot with a 6-1 aggregate success over Porto.

Virgil Van Dijk says Liverpool need a collective effort to stop Lionel Messi in their Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

Liverpool set up a semi-final date with Messi and company next month by winning 4-1 in Porto on Wednesday for a comfortable 6-1 aggregate success.

Barcelona booked their semi-final spot by beating Manchester United 4-0 on aggregate, Messi scoring twice in Tuesday's 3-0 home win to extend his incredible goals tally to 45 in 42 games this season.

Manchester United v Barcelona – UEFA Champions League – Quarter Final – First Leg – Old Trafford
Lionel Messi is the biggest threat to Liverpool reaching the Champions League final for the second successive season (Nick Potts/PA)

"It's going to be very hard (to stop Messi)," Van Dijk told the club's official website.

"I think he's the best player in the world but we'll see.  It's going to be a great match-up for all of us.

"It's about doing it all together, it's never one-v-one, it's never just me against a particular striker.

"It's always us against everyone and I think that's the only way we can defend well."

Liverpool's comprehensive win in Portugal marked the return of Van Dijk's fellow centre-back Joe Gomez.

The 21-year-old England international made his first senior appearance since December following a leg fracture when he came on as a second-half substitute.

"We haven't really thought about it (the Barcelona tie) until now," Gomez said.

"It'll be a difficult game. They're one of the best in the world, clearly, and they've probably got the best player in the world and many others around him.

"So it's going to be a difficult game, but that's what the Champions League is about.

"You don't get this far to have easy games and we know you have to earn your place in the next round."

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Van Dijk were on target as Liverpool, beaten finalists last season, eased into the final four again.

Jurgen Klopp's side have now won eight straight games in their pursuit of a Champions League and Premier League double.

"We had to be prepared for them to come out strong and it was difficult in the first 30 minutes," Gomez said.

"But we managed to get a goal and then the boys saw it out and it was a good result in the end.

"In our eyes it was 0-0 and we couldn't come into the game thinking 'Let's just see it out and try and not let them score and see it out as a 0-0'.

"We knew we had to treat this as a separate game and play as we do."

Liverpool will travel to Barcelona for the first leg of the semi-final on May 1, with the return at Anfield six days later.


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Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring against Manchester United in the Champions League on April 16, 2019
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CManchester CityMan City38322495237298
2Liverpool38307189226797
3Chelsea38219863392472
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs382321367392871
5Arsenal382171073512270
6Manchester UnitedMan Utd381991065541166
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves38169134746157
8Everton38159145446854
9Leicester CityLeicester38157165148352
10West Ham UnitedWest Ham38157165255-352
11Watford38148165259-750
12Crystal Palace38147175153-249
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle38129174248-645
14Bournemouth38136195670-1445
15Burnley38117204568-2340
16Southampton38912174565-2039
17Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton3899203560-2536
RCardiff CityCardiff38104243469-3534
RFulham3875263481-4726
RHuddersfield TownHuddersfield3837282276-5416

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