Liverpool, tonight, travel to Portugal to take on Porto in what seems a fairly routine Champions League quarter-final affair. The Reds currently hold a two-goal lead, meaning Porto cannot afford any slip-ups, especially in defence.
A single goal for Liverpool would essentially render any hope of a turnaround implausible. Their defence will need to be perfect – a chance for one of Europes biggest properties to shine.
Eder Militao, who was linked with Manchester United, last month completed his move to Real Madrid in a £45m deal (TransferMarkt) and looks to be on course to become one of Europe’s best. Well, as you know, Liverpool already have what has been described quite frequently as the best central defender in the world in Virgil van Dijk.
Indeed, if Porto stand any chance to progress, the 21-year-old will have to outperform world renowned Virgil Van Dijk – but how do they compare?
Let’s start with Real Madrid’s first acquisition since the return of Zinedine Zidane, Eder Militao. The highly-rated defender only moved to Porto last summer, in a fee just over £6m. However, he has impressed immensely since his move, named in the best defence of the Portuguese Primeira Liga for five consecutive months.
The highly versatile defender is capable of playing both as a centre-back and a full-back, utilising his ability on the ball, range of passing and speed – three crucially important components of a modern day defender. Standing at 6 ft 1 inch, the Brazilian is not the tallest, but has proved he is more than adept in the air.
Additionally, Militao has earned a reputation as a goal threat as well as being defensively sound. He has scored 3 goals in 24 league appearances this season, adding another in the Champions League.
Porto currently lie second in the table, although with the points total as Benfica. Importantly, however, the club have conceded only 17 goals in 29 games, a hugely impressive feat. Much of this is down to the talented defender – it’s easy to see why Zidane has made a move for the defender who seems to have it all at such a young age.
TT Grade: A
Virgil Van Dijk
Now, onto Virgil Van Dijk, who has received almost every superlative in the English language throughout this season. The defender is also one of the favourites to win Premier League player of the season, after transforming the Liverpool defence into what it is today.
The Dutch defender arrived at Liverpool in a £75m deal, becoming the most expensive defender in world football. The transfer fee has been subsequently fully justified. Liverpool have conceded only 20 goals this Premier League campaign, less than any other team. Juxtaposed to the 38 goals they conceded last season, joint 5th in the Premier League, this makes for impressive reading.
Van Dijk has been instrumental in this turnaround. Not only is Van Dijk quick, tall and powerful, he makes lesser defenders look more assured next to him. Both Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip have seemingly improved drastically since Van Dijk’s arrival.
Should Van Dijk win the player of the season award, he will become the first defender to do so since Vincent Kompany in the 2011-12 season.
Van Dijk is a man mountain, standing at 6 ft 4 in, but he is impressively mobile and reads the game incredibly well. It’s difficult to argue against him being the best centre-back in the world on current form.
TT Grade A+
Van Dijk must take the win here. Although Militao is indeed a fascinatingly good prospect, there is no one in better form than the Dutch defender right now. However, it has taken Van Dijk until the age of 27 to establish himself as one of Europe’s best. Militao is 21 – who knows where the defender will be in six years.
Under the guidance of Zidane, especially with the likes of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane to mentor the Brazilian, he will be in safe hands once he begins his Madrid career at the commence of next season.
In conclusion, Van Dijk takes the victory – but don’t take your eyes off Eder Militao.
Liverpool fans, what do you think? Is Van Dijk the best defender in the world? Does Militao come close?
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience