‘Everyone wants to beat us.. we have to enjoy it’: Virgil van Dijk believes Liverpool can handle the pressure of being Europe’s most-wanted team
- Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool can handle pressure of being most-wanted team
- Liverpool started defence of Champions League with a 2-0 defeat away at Napoli
- Van Dijk insists that his side can bounce back from their opening Group E loss
Virgil van Dijk insists Liverpool can handle the pressure of being Europe’s most-wanted team and is not concerned by their opening Group E defeat.
Liverpool became the first side since AC Milan in 1994 to lose the first match of their Champions League defence and the 2-0 reverse in Naples, which featured a rare Van Dijk mistake, has put pressure on their next game against Red Bull Salzburg in two weeks.
The frenzied celebrations at the final whistle gave an indication of how much stock Napoli had placed on beating the holders, but the Holland international is adamant Liverpool can cope with expectation.
Virgil van Dijk says Liverpool can handle pressure of being the team everyone wants to beat
‘Everyone wants to beat us, no matter what competition,’ said Van Dijk.
‘That’s something we have to deal with, but that’s not going to be a problem — we have to enjoy it as well.
‘For Napoli to win their first game is obviously big, for us to lose our first game is obviously not want we wanted. We have to try to win our other games and we now focus on going to Chelsea.’
Van Dijk refused to enter the debate about the contentious Dries Mertens penalty that gave Napoli a 82nd-minute lead.
Van Dijk is determined for Liverpool to bounce back from their 2-0 defeat away to Napoli
‘I thought it was going to be a draw. The penalty changed it all and you’re going home with no points, but it shouldn’t be a wake-up call.
And he added: ‘We’ve been performing since the start of the season outstanding so there’s no reason for panic. The majority in the game we played well, we put them under pressure and created opportunities.
‘There were lots of positives, the only thing that was not positive is the result.’
It proved a rough night for Reds fans too. Some were targeted by attacks from Napoli’s ultras, who raced around on scooters.
A male supporter needed hospital treatment after he was struck on the head before the game and collapsed at half-time. Liverpool’s chief executive Peter Moore stayed with him until he was seen by medics and police.