Liverpool showed signs of putting their recent struggles behind them on Sunday against Burnley in the league , but with a mid-week Champions League tie against Bayern Munich on the horizon there’s no time to reflect.
Instead, the focus shifts to Wednesday; to the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 between Bayern and Liverpool. And Virgil van Dijk says he and his teammates are ready for their next big task at hand.
“The Champions League is unbelievably big,” the defender told UEFA.com. “The whole show, the fans, the players you play against, the people who are going to watch the game, the pressure—it’s very special.
“Personally I want to be on that stage every year, but we know how tough it is. We’ve been in a tough group this year and got to the knockout stages. Now it’s game by game. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The challenge on Wednesday at least is to score a goal and not lose the game. With the first leg at Anfield ending a scoreless draw despite Liverpool creating far more than their opponents, the tie appears well balanced.
There’s a case, though, that Liverpool should have the advantage. If Bayern win, they advance, and if it’s 0-0 the game goes to extra time, but away goals mean Liverpool will advance if they win or if it ends a score draw.
And while Bayern will be hoping to draw inspiration from their home crowd on Wedneday, Liverpool will be counting on Bayern having to play a more adventurous game in front of that home crowd than they did at Anfield.
That should see Bayern higher up the pitch, creating counter-pressing opportunities for the Reds, and it should open up space for Liverpool to attack into when they do win the ball back in dangerous areas. It should mean chances.
“They have a great squad and great players,” Van Dijk added. “It’s a fantastic club and a great opponent to play against, so we have a lot of respect for them, but we obviously want to go through to the next round.”