Natalie Sawyer: “Liverpool are a different prospect with Virgil Van Dijk back”
Natalie Sawyer believes the return of Virgil Van Dijk the defence can prove to be the difference in Liverpool’s bid to be crowned European champions for the seventh time in the Champions League final.
The Dutch defender played no part for the Reds in their final Premier League game of the season, but has confirmed he is fully fit for Saturday night’s clash in Paris and Sawyer has claimed that the importance of his return cannot be overestimated.
🏆 A bumper Champions League final preview from Natalie Sawyer with some BIG predictions!
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“Ten of Karim Benzema’s goals in the competition have been in the knockout stages and he is just enjoying being the star of the show for Real Madrid,” she told BoyleSports.
“But Liverpool are a different prospect with Virgil Van Dijk back in the team. It’s a massive boost and when you look back at last season when Madrid knocked Liverpool out, they missed their first-choice centre back partnership. It’s massively important to have Van Dijk back when you have someone to marshal like Benzema.
“But of course it’s not just about Benzema, they’ve got Vinicius Junior and it’ll be fascinating to see him come up against Trent Alexander-Arnold. Real Madrid will try to exploit any space in behind when Trent attacks and I have a hunch Liverpool may have to come from behind.
“I expect a Salah, Mane and Diaz front three, but they have great options and whoever he picks will be a massive threat. Fabinho has been absolutely brilliant and it’s massive to have him fit and rearing to go too.
“Liverpool were given a real scare by Villarreal in the second leg of their semi-final and they wouldn’t have been expecting it to be as nerve wracking as it turned out. But maybe that was what they needed – you can’t coast through competitions and they will be well prepared to face a Real Madrid side who never know when they’re finished.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Sawyer is one of the leading names in TV and Radio sports broadcasting, currently providing analysis as a Football Ambassador for BoyleSports.
A lifelong Brentford fan, she boasts a glittering CV which includes prestigious football podcast The Game and an 18-year stint at Sky Sports where she anchored Sky Sports News’ rolling coverage of the world of sport.
Nowadays Natalie’s insight is showcased on the airwaves in her role as an award-winning host on talkSPORT.
Keep up to date with Natalie’s latest analysis on our Twitter.