The loss of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez for the season would be a blow to any side, but season-ending injuries to the world’s best centre half and his regular partner to start the 2020-21 season hasn’t led to any kind of stumble.
That’s been down to quality of Joël Matip and Fabinho, with the veteran Matip in particular having been asked to step up—and, hopefully, to stay fit—as the new leader for the backline of the reigning England and world champions.
“Players like them any team would miss, but I have confidence in all my teammates that we can play to the best level,” the Liverpool centre half said ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League group stage tie against Atalanta.
“We have a team full of great players and we’re working on things to keep everyone fit, and I’m looking to stay as fit as possible. I always try to play my part and be the best I can, but if I can help other players more now I like to do this.”
It should help with keeping Matip, Liverpool’s last established senior centre half, fit—and converted midfielder Fabinho as well—if the Reds beat Atalanta, giving them 12 points in their group and a place in the knockout rounds.
That would allow manager Jürgen Klopp to rotate heavily in the final two group stage games and focus on the league, which will be busy enough on its own heading into a hectic holiday period without two extra European ties.