'A tough afternoon' - Virgil van Dijk excited ahead of Erling Haaland battle

Virgil van Dijk says he is excited about the prospect of facing Erling Haaland this Sunday as the world's best centre-back and centre-forward go head-to-head. 

Liverpool host Manchester City in the Premier League this weekend, with Jurgen Klopp's side desperate to extend their lead at the top of the table.

The Reds have an impressive record against Man City at Anfield, losing just twice to the treble-winners on Merseyside during the 21st century.

One of the key battles on Sunday, Van Dijk will have the task of keeping last season's Premier League top scorer Haaland at bay, a challenge that may be made more difficult by Ibrahima Konate's potential absence.

However, the Liverpool skipper is relishing the opportunity to do battle with the Norwegian striker, with two of Europe's elite up against each other at Anfield this weekend.

"It’s obviously going to be a massive game for both sides and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of facing the treble winners," Van Dijk said (via RTE).

"It’s always good to come up against one of the best and most in-form strikers in the world.

"He is a natural goalscorer, he has proven it and his numbers are speaking for themselves so it will be a tough afternoon but it’s a battle I am looking forward to.

"I’ve caused him problems, he’s caused me problems – that’s how it works. These battles are always tough. But like I said I think he is looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to it."

Luton Town FC v Manchester City FC Manchester City s Erling Haaland after the final whistle during the Luton Town FC v Manchester City FC Emirates FA Cup 5th Round match at Kenilworth Road, Luton, England, United Kingdom on 27 February 2024 Editorial use only DataCo restrictions apply See www.football-dataco.com Copyright: xIMAGO/EveryxSecondxMediax ESM-0924-0041

Haaland has netted twice in four appearances against Liverpool for Man City, including in the 1-1 draw at the Etihad earlier this term. The 23-year-old also scored his only goal at Anfield to date during a 4-3 loss with RB Salzburg in 2019.

The game is likely to have huge ramifications regarding this season's title race and defeat for either side could prove catastrophic come the end of the season.

But Van Dijk has shrugged off the title talk ahead of the game, insisting there is plenty of football still to be played after Sunday's clash.

"There’s too long to go. Obviously it is a massive game, you can’t deny that," Van Dijk added. "There will be a lot of eyes on it but we have one aim and that’s to try to win the game.

"We are at home and we are looking forward to the big challenge but the big opportunity as well. We want to get a good result. That’s the only thing we will try and do, not going out there to make statements.

"But we know we are going to face a team which is very good and it will be tough."

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