On Sunday evening, Liverpool’s defender, Virgil Van Djik probably became the talk of the town after a huge slip in The Reds’ dramatic 4-3 win over Tottenham.
The horrible moment came in the 39th minute when the Dutchman tried to guard against Ivan Perisic working the ball into the box. As the Tottenham winger cut back to loose himself from his marker, Van Djik tried to come to a halt but unfortunately botched it and slipped till he was forced to sit on the grass. The defender picked himself up almost immediately though but Perisic was away by then. The Croatian floated a cross into the box for Harry Kane to rifle home an unstoppable volley.
Since then, a couple of jokes and laughable stuff have been made about the Liverpool centre-back.
But beyond all this, there happens to be an iota of deja-vu in Sunday"s fall.
Virgil is what many people would call one of the best defenders in the world or perhaps even the best. Some have compared him with the likes of Ramos and Pepe in the business. Van Djik is no doubt a good centre-back, physical and strong but even the best of defenders have bad days.
Sergio Ramos has seen himself get blown away, the legendary Carlos Puyol knows what it is and feels like to be destroyed on the pitch, after experiencing Angel Di Maria stretch him in an El Clasico match, which resulted in an ankle injury the Spanish defender is deemed to never have recovered from at the end of his career.
Deja-vu it was.
On this fateful day in 2019, RB Salzburg had travelled to Liverpool, England(with the likes of Erling Haaland and Dominik Szoboszlai on board) to take on Jurgen Klopp"s side at Anfield. Salzburg were looking somewhat confident, topping the table courtesy of a 6-2 annihilation of Genk on matchday 1 while Liverpool had been defeated 2-0 by Napoli.
Liverpool were three goals to the good inside fifteen thanks to an opener from Sadio Mane and efforts from Andy Robertson and Mohamed Salah respectively. Then Salzburg got a chance to pull one back in the 39th minute. Hwang Hee Chan received a pass from Sekou Koita. The Korean forward worked the ball forward into the box, with Van Djik let onto him, trying to mark the striker. As Hwang Hee Chan attempted to turn away from the defender, Van Djik lunged his right leg forward as if for a tackle or to block an attempted shot. The Salzburg man cut back inside, Virgil unable to control himself slid out of his opponent"s path before Hwang Hee Chan got a shot away at the Liverpool goal, beating Adrian from a couple of yards out.
1.) Both cases happened at Anfield
To think that Virgil got embarassed in front of home fans and supporters makes it more humiliating. Nothing hurts more than being dissed in front of your loved ones and the people you love. Just like Perisic finished off the defender in front of The Kopites, Hwang Hee Chan made the big defender disappear at the home stadium.
2.) Liverpool were three goals ahead in both cases.
Just like it happened against Tottenham, Liverpool had gone 3-0 up against Salzburg when Van Djik was dished out a laughable treatment. Goals from Sadio Mane, Andy Robertsen and Mohamed Salah had given the hosts a three goal lead when the Dutchman had himself torn apart on the other end of the pitch.
3.) RB Salzburg just like Tottenham equalised, coming from three goals down to level in the second half.
Just the way Perisic"s genius finished off by Harry Kane was the first in a trio of goals that saw the visitors momentarily comeback before Liverpool netted a sinker once and for all, Salzburg also fought back from a three goal deficit. The goal by Hwang Hee chan preceded a strike by Minamino and a tap-in from Erling Haaland, both in the second half,
as was the case of Son and Richarlison.
4.) They both happened in the 39th minute.
Too good to be true, becoming more than just a mere coincidence, both incidences happened in the 39th minute of play, after Liverpool had been leading 3-0. Van Djik must have a phobia for the number 39.
5.) The techniques were similar.
If you were to put both videos side by side, it would be quite difficult to spot the differences. Perisic"s technique was almost a perfect lookalike of Hwang Hee-Chan"s. Had he been watching the game before their match on Sunday evening?
The left flank, the stop, the cut-back, Van Djik"s slip(though this looked a bit different). They were just too similar.
6.) Liverpool went on to win both games by a scoreline of 4-3.
Finally, one of the stats that has the Dutchman"s back. Even though Van Djik was heavily destroyed in both cases and both teams; Tottenham and Salzburg, levelled at 3-3, Liverpool found a winner in both cases. While Mohamed Salah restored The Reds" lead at Anfield more than three years ago, Diogo Jota scored a dying minutes opener to send the visitors packing empty-handed.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images