Virgil van Dijk has issued a subtle warning to Lionel Messi and Barcelona after Liverpool’s defeat in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tie.
Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners at the Nou Camp on Wednesday night, with goals from Messi and Luis Suarez putting the La Liga champions in control.
Liverpool produced a spirited performance but their hard work was seemingly undone by Messi’s two second-half goals.
However, Van Dijk appears to have hope of a stunning comeback ahead of next week’s return leg at Anfield and says Messi ‘won the battle but not the war’.
Speaking to Spanish outlet Sport, the Netherlands defender said: ‘When you come up against Messi and he produces his best form you can’t do anything.
‘I’m grateful that I’m not in Spain and I don’t have to face him every season.
‘He scored two goals and I leave very disappointed. He won the battle but not the war.’
In a separate interview, Van Dijk added: ‘3-0 sounds very bad. It sounds like we had a proper shocker, but we created big chances against them and should have scored at least one.
‘Then it would be a totally different feeling to what we have now, but we have to take it how it is.
‘I know it’s going to be very tough to come to Anfield. We all have to believe, I will definitely believe, so we’ll see.’
Despite trailing by three goals ahead of next week’s return leg, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said he was ‘really proud’ of his team’s efforts in Barcelona.
Asked what he told his players in the dressing room after the defeat, Klopp said: ‘I said I am really proud of them, that I really liked the game.
‘They don’t have to think about the next game against Barcelona, now we play Newcastle.
That’s all our focus. ‘We go to the hotel, have a proper sleep, get up in the morning, fly home and then prepare for Newcastle.
‘Whatever happens, these boys, I couldn’t be more proud of them.’
On Saturday, Liverpool face a Newcastle United side unbeaten in the Premier League since April 6.