In the build-up to Barcelona’s Champions League semi-final against Liverpool, centre-back Virgil van Dijk has been lauded for his excellent season by the media. Rightly so, but we also shouldn’t forget about the form of Gerard Piqué, who has been an absolute rock at the heart of Barcelona’s defence during an impressive league-winning campaign
Van Dijk here, van Dijk there – it’s been hard to escape mention of the imperious centre-back in the last few days. There remains little doubt that he is a sensational defender – strong in the tackle, an aerial threat and good on the ball. These, however, are all attributes that Barcelona centre-back Gerard Piqué also possesses.
Much has been made of the key battle between Messi and van Dijk, but little has been said of the role that Gerard Piqué will have to play to keep out Mo Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino. The 32-year-old was in excellent form in both legs of Barça’s quarter-final tie with Manchester United and will be hoping to repeat these performances against another English team this time around.
Piqué’s experience has been a key part of their much more stable looking team this season and he has thrived alongside summer arrival Clement Lenglet at the heart of Barça’s defence.
Barcelona born and bred, Piqué’s leadership skills have also stood out this season – as has his ability to decide games at the other end of the pitch. The former Spanish international has scored 7 goals this season, and another against Liverpool would come at the perfect time for his side as they look to beat the Reds for the first time ever at the Camp Nou in a European competition.
With the spotlight firmly on PFA Player of the Year van Dijk, Piqué will be hoping to continue his outstanding form and lead his side to a first Champions League final since 2015.