3 reasons why Alisson was more important than Van Dijk in Liverpool's Champions League triumph
It is no longer news that Liverpool are the current UEFA Champions League winners, having triumphed 2-0 over Tottenham in a tense final at the Wanda Metropolitano last weekend to win club football's biggest prize for the sixth time in their illustrious history.
Nobody apart from pained rival fans would begrudge Liverpool their victory as the Reds played some of the most exhilarating football in all of Europe and narrowly missed out on a first Premier League title.
Having suffered defeat in each of his previous six finals as a manager across Liverpool and Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp must have been a relieved man to get his hands on the 'Big Ears' at the third time of asking.
While Liverpool's triumph was undeniably down to team effort, one man has been getting more praise than others for playing a massive role in the win, with many going as far as to suggest he should be crowned the 2019 Ballon d'Or winner.
Ever since Virgil van Dijk arrived at Liverpool as the most expensive defender in history, the transformation in the Merseyside team's backline has been immaculate as they have gone from leaky and calamitous into rock solid under the Dutchman's watch.
The 27-year-old has been dominant in his displays, marshaling the defense with his excellent positioning and vocal control, while his pristine reading of the game means that he rarely has to make a tackle (which you can be sure he would win on the occasions where he has to make one).
Indeed an incredible stat emerged that the former Southampton man has not been dribbled past in his last 64 matches and this is made more impressive by the fact that in that time, he has come up against the best players in the world, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
His performances at the back for Liverpool saw him deservedly named the PFA Player of the Year and while his contributions to Liverpool's success in the Champions League is not to be taken for granted, there was someone more crucial in Liverpool's backline to their Champions success.
While this writer places Van Dijk on an optimum pedestal and considers him the best defender in the world on current form, he finds it a travesty that the Dutch international is getting all the reviews for his displays at the back with almost next to no mention of a certain Alisson Becker.
The writer believes that while Van Dijk might have played an extremely important role in ensuring Liverpool's success in the Champions League, Alisson played a more important role, despite not getting all the rave reviews he deserves.
It is a well known fact that goalkeepers rarely grab headlines except for the wrong reasons but this is an anomaly which must be corrected. In this piece, the writer would be highlighting three reasons why Alisson played a more starring role than Van Dijk in Liverpool's Champions League triumph.
#3 He turned out to be the missing link in Jurgen Klopp's puzzle
Ever since arriving at Anfield in October 2015, there was always a feeling of something special about what Klopp was building at the club.
His first shot at a trophy came less than four months later as his side traded tackles with Manchester City at Wembley in February 2016, but despite fighting valiantly to equalize in the last minute, The Reds lost to the Citizens on penalties in the League Cup final.
Just three months later, they were again in another showpiece event, this time in the Europa League final, where they came up against Sevilla. But despite being a goal ahead in the first half, Klopp's men capitulated after the break to lose 3-1.
Yet another final heartbreak was suffered in 2018 as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
A common denominator in all the three final losses was that calamitous goalkeeping errors played a role in denying Liverpool glory, with Simon Mignolet being responsible for the first two, while Loris Karius' moment of infamy in the latter in Kiev last year proved to be the nadir for Klopp.
Two months after that harrowing defeat against Real Madrid, Liverpool sanctioned the purchase of Alisson from AS Roma for a then-world record sum of £66 million.
The Brazilian had been described by former Roma sporting director Monchi as the 'Messi of goalkeepers' and he has gone on to live up to that billing.
In the Premier League, he won the Golden Glove award, having kept 22 clean sheets in the league and he also extended his brilliance to the continent where he was a cornerstone to Liverpool's triumph.
It is pertinent to note that Van Dijk was present in that painful defeat to Real Madrid in June 2018 but despite his best efforts, he was powerless to stop Karius' howlers which ultimately cost them the title.
The only major difference between the defense line in 2018 and 2019 was the presence of Alisson between the sticks. As such it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that he swung the pendulum in Liverpool's favor from failure in 2018 to success in 2019.