The Reds defender believes another comeback could be coming as his side look to defend last year’s Champions League crown
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool will need to play like “grown men” on Wednesday if they hope to erase their first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
The Reds suffered a stunning 1-0 defeat in the opening match of their round of 16 tie, with Saul Niguez’s early goal enough for Atletico Madrid to earn a home win.
Now, Jurgen Klopp’s side will head back to Anfield knowing they’ll need a victory to advance and keep their Champions League hopes alive.
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The Premier League leaders pulled off a number of comebacks en route to the Champions League final in each of the last two seasons, but Van Dijk admits this one will be a difficult task for last year’s winners.
“The pressure is always there,” Van Dijk said.
“The thing is when you don’t get good results – we don’t get too many – we have had three in the last five, but the outside world can talk like we are in a relegation battle.
“It is what it is. We have to deal with that.
“We have to be grown men about it, take it on the chin and show the world why we deserve to be where we are and why we deserve to still be in the Champions League.
“But we know it is going to be unbelievably difficult.”
He added: “We couldn’t give any chances away against Barcelona, either.
“Things can happen and they could be the better team but we all want to show why we want to go through with our qualities and deserve to be in the next round.”
The Reds have struggled in recent weeks, having lost their first Premier League match of the season to Watford while also falling to Chelsea in the FA Cup.
It has been the Merseysiders’ only real low point of the season, but Van Dijk backed his side to bounce back with a response on Wednesday after toppling Bournemouth over the weekend to get back on track.
“It will be very difficult, with all due respect to Bournemouth, Atletico will be tough, they are a fantastic side,” said the Dutch defender.
“They are one of the best in how they play. They are aggressive, together and they have fantastic players who can hurt you on the break too, so we have to have a fantastic night, all of us. Hopefully we can go through.
“We have some time to prepare and we have to be ready for a very difficult challenge.
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“I think so far we have been sticking to our principles and whoever is on the pitch involved will give more than 100 per cent.
“Everyone is looking forward to this game and we all want to go through to the next round.
“We know it is a difficult game and we will try everything we have to beat them. We know how difficult it will be.”