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Van Dijk Demands “100%” Against Red Star Belgrade

The commanding center-back believe Liverpool need to be at their best when they face their Serbian competitors on Wednesday.

Chelsea v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Liverpool may have preserved their unbeaten record and notched another clean sheet against Huddersfield Town on Saturday, but no one can claim that the team was at their best. In some ways it was inevitable, with so niggling injuries keeping key players off the pitch following the international break.

One person who will admit this is Liverpool defensive lynch pin Virgil van Dijk, who admitted, “Against Huddersfield, we should have done even better. Obviously we kept a clean sheet, which is all good, but we could have made it easier for ourselves.”

But Wednesday marks the return of European football, and after Liverpool lost to Napoli in the last group stage game, they cannot risk anything less than a victory against Red Star Belgrade. In order to do that, the team must be playing at their best. A European display like the ones seen last season would do just the trick, especially after PSG’s (suspiciously, if the match fixing allegations turn out to be true) huge win against them in the last round.

Regarding the match, van Dijk said, “We need to respect the opponent. They are in the Champions League - the best competition in Europe apart from the Premier League - and it will be a hard game. We will need to be 100 per cent and I think we will be. We need to win every game. There is basically no other mindset. It’s another Champions League night at Anfield and I’m sure we will recover from Huddersfield and make sure we are ready.”

Back to assist in the match will be Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, who both missed out on the Huddersfield Town match at the weekend. Less certain, though, is captain Jordan Henderson, whose hamstring problem took him out of Saturday’s game early. Naby Keïta will likewise be missing, limiting Klopp’s options in the midfield. This may mean that we’ll see Adam Lallana or Xherdan Shaqiri get another run out after their league starts over the weekend.