Netherlands international Virgil Van Dijk has opened up on the striker that he hates playing against the most.
For a player of his calibre, he has come up against some of the very best strikers in the world and on many occasions come out on top.
Dan Vijk has faced Lionel Messi, Erling Haaland, Sergio Aguero and many more but surprisingly, none of these big names give him sleepless nights, except for a certain Frenchman – Olivier Giroud.
During an interview with Gary Neville last year, Virgil Van Dijk named former Arsenal striker and World Cup winner Olivier Giroud as his bogeyman. “Funnily enough, [Olivier] Giroud,” Van Dijk told Gary Neville on The Overlap.
“There’s so many fantastic strikers I’ve played against, Messi, [Sergio] Aguero, [Erling] Haaland is a difficult one because he has everything, but I’m going for Giroud as he’s my bogeyman – annoying!”
How good is Van Dijk?
Liverpool’s captain Virgil van Dijk is without doubt one of the best centre-backs in the premier league in the last five seasons, having arrived from Southampton for £75 million (a then-record fee for a defender) in January 2018.
The Dutchman has seen his stock rise and was voted runner-up in The Best FIFA Men’s Player and into the FIFA FIFpro Men’s World 11 in September 2019. Furthermore, he made the shortlist of the 30 football players for the Ballon d’Or, finishing as runner-up behind Lionel Messi.
Why Olivier Giroud is Van Dijk’s bogeyman
Olivier Giroud is well-known for his calculated movements in the box, his positioning is topnotch and he has a great ability to find space in the box.
His aerial prowess is second to none, making him a target for crosses into the opponent’s box. He also has very good linkup play, holding off defenders and creating opportunities for himself and his teammates.
Olivier Giroud led the line for the Gunners before switching to another London club Chelsea, where he enjoyed some success, winning the UEFA EUROPA League in 2019 and the Champions League in 2021.
Van Dijk revealed that Giroud always find a way past him, whether at club football or when France and the Netherlands face up during international competitions.
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“I always felt like I got him, but somehow, he always managed to score. Whether it was for Arsenal, Chelsea or France, he always scored.
“I said to him when we won the league [in 2020], we won 5-2 we were 3-0 up or something and he scored a scrappy goal, I think it was against the crossbar and fell down, scrappy goal, I said to him: ‘You scored again?!’
“So I would say he is the guy that scores against me, and just that annoying person.”
Former Chelsea striker Giroud has found the back of the net six times in 12 appearances against Van Dijk.
The 37-year-old currently plies his trade with Serie A giants AC Milan, scoring 8 goals and assisting 3 in 15 games this season. He remains France’s record goalscorer with 54 goals in 126 caps for Les Bleus.