Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and his Liverpool counterpart Virgil van Dijk have both revealed who they consider the toughest opponents they have faced in their respective careers.
Both men are among the finest defenders of their generation, with many regarding them as the standout centre-backs in world football. They have each played key roles in their sides' successes in the recent past.
Sergio Ramos has been immense since signing for Real Madrid from Sevilla aged just 19 in 2005. The Spaniard was successfully converted from a right-back into one of the toughest and most resolute central defenders in history.
The 34-year-old has won everything there is to win at both the international and club level, and he has captained Real Madrid through what has been their most successful period in modern history.
Beyond his defensive solidity, Sergio Ramos is also adept at finding the back of the net, especially at pivotal moments, and he recently became the highest scoring defender in La Liga history.
Virgil van Dijk has been instrumental in Liverpool's recent success since signing with them in 2018. Despite being signed for a then world-record fee from Southampton, the Netherlands international has proved to be a bargain buy, considering his performances for the Merseyside club.
His arrival helped transform Liverpool from a defensively porous side to one of the most compact in the world. Van Dijk's form saw him named the PFA Player of the Year and UEFA Best Men's Player in 2018-19, while the 29-year-old was also in the running for the prestigious Ballon d'Or the same year.
Who did Sergio Ramos and Virgil van Dijk pick as their toughest opponents?
"There are some difficult strikers out there but probably Leo Messi," Van Dijk said.
Sergio Ramos, for his part, went for a former Barcelona icon, describing Ronaldinho as 'virtually unstoppable at his best.'
The Spain captain crossed paths with the Brazilian legend early in his career and showered him with praise, saying:
"There've been many. Ronaldinho was virtually unstoppable at his best, as a forward or a playmaker."
Sergio Ramos has played at the highest level throughout his career and has come face-to-face with some of the greatest strikers in history. He also reserved praise for two other former Barcelona stars in Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, saying:
"Samuel Eto'o, on his day, or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a striker who was a lot of trouble with his size, holds the ball up well, plays great with his back to goal and was fast."
Sergio Ramos will be back in action on the international scene with his country as they take on the Netherlands in a friendly on Wednesday.
Virgil van Dijk will, however, be missing as he is currently rehabilitating from a knee injury he sustained in October.Published 11 Nov 2020, 18:32 IST