Virgil van Dijk makes Liverpool admission ahead of Atletico Madrid clash

Virgil van Dijk believes the time has come for Liverpool to show exactly why they are the most feared team in the world.

The Reds stand on the verge of adding the Premier League title to their World and European ­triumphs.

Yet a troubling run of three ­defeats in their last five games – and some indifferent form – has left their Champions League hopes in the balance.

One of those defeats was to Atletico Madrid, who have a 1-0 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie.

And Van Dijk says Liverpool must show the class that has taken them to the pinnacle of world football.

He said: “We have to be grown men about it, take it on the chin and show the world why we deserve to be where we are.

“We have to show why we ­deserve to still be in the Champions League. But we know it is going to be unbelievably difficult.” Atletico will bring a fiendishly tough ­challenge to Anfield for the second leg tonight night.

They are renowned for their ­defensive excellence and grimly parking a whole fleet of buses.

Van Dijk accepts Liverpool were not good enough in the first leg in Spain three weeks ago, but believes the time has come for the real Liverpool to stand up and be counted.

“The pressure is ­always there,” said the Holland defender. “The thing is when you don’t get good results – we don’t get many but we have had three in the last five – and the outside world can talk like we are in a relegation battle.

“It is what it is. We have to deal with that. We were disappointed as we didn’t want to lose. I think we got dragged in a little bit.

“And obviously that is the quality from them. They created chances too. It could maybe have been 2-0 and we didn’t create much. But we know we have another 90-plus ­minutes to make that right. We will try everything.”

Van Dijk has also called on his team-mates to channel the spirit of their remarkable semi-final triumph over Barcelona last season, where they overcome a 3-0 first-leg deficit with a historic ­performance at Anfield.

Only one goal is required to take this tie to extra-time, but Van Dijk says the same mentality will be required.

He said: “We couldn’t give any chances away against Barcelona, either. We will go with the same mindset as always.

“Hopefully win the game and play good football, but first and ­foremost, we have to deliver a lot of passion and hard work.

"We have to get everyone going from the first second to the last. We all want to show why we want to go through with our qualities and deserve to be in the next round.

"But we know Atletico will be tough, They are one of the best in how they play. They are aggressive, together and they have fantastic players who can hurt you on the break too,

“So we have to have a fantastic night, all of us. Hopefully we can go through. We have some time to prepare and we have to be ready for a very difficult challenge.

“Everyone is looking forward to this game and we all want to go through to the next round. We will try everything.”

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