Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool will have no fear when they travel to Paris Saint-Germain for their crucial Champions League clash this week.
The Reds know that victory in the French capital on Wednesday would likely secure their place in the last 16 of Europe’s premier knockout competition, but are also aware that a defeat against the Ligue 1 champions would place them in a precarious position heading into their final group match with Napoli in a fortnight’s time.
It promises, then, to be quite an occasion. Liverpool ran out 3-2 victors when the sides met at Anfield back in September, but PSG have won all 14 of their domestic games so far this season, and could be boosted by the return of the injured duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe for this week’s contest.
Van Dijk, though, says Jurgen Klopp’s men are ready to take care of business – whoever takes to the field on Wednesday night.
“I don’t have any fear,” said the Dutch international. “We respect them as a team but the thing is we want to win the game. We are going to totally up for it, motivated and we will make sure we are ready from the start.
“We don’t need to forget that we are one of the best teams in Europe as well. We reached the final last year and we want to do at least the same this year. That’s our goal. So we are going to try, try and beat them.”
Liverpool head into the game buoyed by Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Watford, a game which saw them extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season to 13 games, and set a new club record for the fewest goals conceded (five) at this stage of a league campaign.
Impressive stuff, even if the common perception is that the Reds are not yet operating at the level of Manchester City, the league champions and current leaders. Klopp’s side remain two points behind Pep Guardiola’s men.
“I don’t care what other people think,” Van Dijk said. “We are still unbeaten. We need to look at ourselves. We are doing very well.
“Obviously there is always room for improvement but we can’t be sad about the situation we are in. We just need to keep improving. Keep doing what we are doing and get better. That’s the only way forward.
“We can only look at ourselves. We can’t look at them [City]. They are the champions, they are a fantastic team. But so are we and we need to focus on our game. Then we’ll see in the end how it’s going to be, whether it’s going to be very close. Hopefully it is.”
Van Dijk’s own form, of course, has been outstanding, the Netherlands captain settling brilliantly since his £75million (€85m/$96m) move from Southampton in January. The suggestion now is that the 27-year-old is among the world’s best centre-backs – but does that bring an added layer of responsibility?
“I think at a club like Liverpool you always feel a bit of pressure,” said Van Dijk. “You should. But it doesn’t bother me.
“I just want to play. I want to enjoy the games because not a lot of people have the chance to do what we do. That’s how we started football as well, enjoying what we are doing and that’s what I try to do as well.
“It’s always a great feeling to help Holland as well as Liverpool but we all do it together. We want to evolve, same as with Liverpool.
“Both teams have great players and everyone wants to do their best. In the end we all to it together and I am just enjoying every minute of it.”
Liverpool will train at Melwood on Tuesday morning before flying to Paris, having declined the opportunity to use the Parc des Princes for their open session ahead of Wednesday’s game. Klopp, along with Sadio Mane, will face the media at a press conference on Tuesday evening.