With Virgil van Dijk suspended for the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League Round of 16 tie against Bayern Munich last month, midfielder Fabinho stepped into the backline and more than held his own as the Reds kept Bayern off the scoreboard.
Still, Alisson is excited that Van Dijk will be returning for the second leg—and not just due to the defender’s quality. He’s doubly excited for his return because it will also mean that now, Fabinho will be able move back into the midfield tonight.
“We have so many players with a lot of quality, but Van Dijk is a very, very important player for our team,” Alisson told journalists ahead of Wednesday’s match. “The way he plays gives consistency for our team, defending high balls, corners, set-pieces.
“He is important for us and it is very important to have him for this second game. I think Fabinho played well, but it isn’t the same thing—he is a great midfielder and a good centre back. If you can have the best in each position, for us it is always better.”
On form this season, there are few better—in England or Europe—than Van Dijk at centre half and Fabinho at the base of midfield, and as good as Fabinho was filling in, having both of them playing in their best positions is clearly a boost.
It should also free up Liverpool’s attack to press forward for a potentially decisive goal in a game they either need to win or secure a score draw to advance from—though if it ends up nil-nil and penalties, Alisson says they’re ready for that, too.
“We are prepared for the game and we know penalties can happen,” he added. “We will try to come back with the qualification for the next stage, but the way that goes I do not know. We are prepared for everything tomorrow night.”