Van Dijk has starred for Liverpool this season as they chased the quadruple and is set for a titanic clash with Karim Benzema in the Champions League final against Real Madrid
Image: Sky Sports)
Van Dijk missed the majority of last season with a serious ACL injury, but returned to fitness in time for the start of the current campaign. He has made 48 appearances in all competitions, helping the Reds to win the Carabao Cup and reach the final of both the FA Cup and Champions League.
The Dutchman is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, given his performances since joining the Reds in 2018. One of the toughest tests of his career will come in a fortnight, when Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
For that clash in Paris, Van Dijk will likely be charged with marking Madrid striker Karim Benzema. The Frenchman has virtually dragged Los Blancos to the final single-handedly, scoring hat-tricks against PSG and Chelsea.
But while Benzema is one of the world’s best strikers, Woodgate is confident that Van Dijk will prove more than a match for him. In fact, Woodgate branded the Liverpool star the best centre-back he has seen as he hailed the 30-year-old.
“I think he’s the best centre back I’ve seen in my lifetime. He’s incredible. He’s an incredible player. The best I’ve seen. I think Benzema is on something ridiculous like 43 goals for the season and he will need to be at his best against Van Dijk,” he told BritishGambler.co.uk.
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“You play against a centre back like Van Dijk, and he just has everything. Everything you’d want in a centre back. If you could create a centre back and say this is what I’d want him to look like – Virgil Van Dijk is that player.
“If Liverpool lose him, he is irreplaceable. He’s the most important player in that Liverpool team. Playing against Benzema is tough, but playing against Van Dijk is on another planet. He’s just outrageously good.”
With Van Dijk certain to start in Liverpool’s backline against Madrid in two weeks, Woodgate is sure he can lead them to victory. The former Madrid defender predicted that his old team would struggle to contain the Reds’ aggressive style.
“Liverpool will win. They’ve got too much. They’re too aggressive, they’re too quick, thy close down too quick. They’re animals these Liverpool players. They’re a juggernaut of a team,” he added.
“They have so much ability in the team and so much pace, power and intensity to their game. I think Real will struggle with it. I watched Real against City, Chelsea, PSG, and yes they beat them all but needed a bit of luck. In a one-off game against Liverpool – not at the Bernabeu – I think Liverpool will have too much and will win.”
If they did lift the Champions League trophy in Paris, it would be their second such title in three years, having won the 2019 edition of the tournament. They are on course to win a treble of cups, after winning the Carabao Cup in February and with the FA Cup final to come on Saturday.