'The problem is van Dijk' - Richard Dunne blasts Liverpool defender 7 months ago

'The problem is van Dijk' - Richard Dunne blasts Liverpool defender

The former Irish captain pinpoints Liverpool's problems.

Following Liverpool's calamitous midweek showing in the Champions League, which saw Spanish giants Real Madrid thump the Reds 5-2 at Anfield, pundits and fans have been trying to analyse Liverpool's dramatic fall.

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Some have laid the blame at Jurgen Klopp's feet for failing to tactically adjust his gegenpress style, whilst others have pointed the finger at the club's FSG ownership who many say have failed to adequately reinvest in the transfer market.

Virgil van Dijk struggled to deal with Real Madrid's frontline.

However, former Ireland captain Richard Dunne believes that once-flawless Virgil van Dijk should shoulder a considerable portion of the blame.

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Speaking on Virgin Media following Liverpool's second half collapse to Carlo Ancelotti's star-studded Madrid side, Dunne claimed that "The problem is possibly van Dijk... They need to build a defence around Konate rather than van Dijk".

"I don't think he's recovered from his injury. When players run at him, he doesn't put a tackle in anymore. You always see him putting his hands out saying 'someone else should have done better,' you don't see him intercepting anymore.

"There's just a passiveness to his whole game."

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After two consecutive league wins on the bounce, defeating both local rivals Everton and Top Four rivals Newcastle, many Liverpool fans had hoped that Jurgen Klopp's side had finally turned a corner and begun to iron out the inconsistent form which has plagued them this season.

Initially, the fixture versus Real Madrid appeared to be yet another iconic European night in the already-lengthy history of Anfield, with quick-fire goals from Darwin Núñez and Mohamed Salah handing the six-time Champions League winners a commanding 2-0 lead.

However, just as fast as Liverpool had raced into the lead, Madrid wrestled back the ascendancy and found themselves level come the break, thanks to a superb Vinicius Jr strike and an Alisson howler in front of the Kop.

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Vinicius Junior scored a brace in Real's 5-2 victory.

Whilst van Dijk's defensive partner Joe Gomez was ostensibly to blame for the majority of Liverpool's concessions, that did not stop the Netherlands captain from also receiving criticism from Jamie Carragher. Speaking on CBS Sports, the former Liverpool centre half spoke to van Dijk's performance, saying that "I think I'd take his place at the moment".

Another former Ireland international in Damien Delaney joined Dunne in critiquing Liverpool's leaky defence, stating on Virgin Media that "There needs to be a cull now" and that the embarrassing defeat should "be the final straw" for a host of Klopp's players.

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Following the dispiriting display on Tuesday night, the Merseyside club must regroup before facing Crystal Palace this weekend. The following Sunday, they have a crunch clash against Erik ten Hag's high-flying Manchester United side.

Although, if van Dijk and Liverpool are to prove Dunne and Delaney wrong on Sunday evening, then they must first manage to contain the mercurial Marcus Rashford, who has scored 16 goals in 17 games.

An intriguing encounter awaits, as Liverpool seek to cling onto their faint Top Four hopes with victory against their fiercest rivals.