'We knew': Virgil van Dijk makes claim about Chelsea's substitutes and Thomas Tuchel after Carabao Cup final

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk hailed both Chelsea and Thomas Tuchel following the Carabao Cup final yesterday.

Speaking to Viaplay Fotball after the Reds won the mighty battle at Wembley on penalties, Van Dijk praised pretty much everything about the Blues’ makeup.

Chelsea and Liverpool left everything on that pitch

The Dutch international certainly had his work cut out by Tuchel’s men throughout the 120 minutes of relentless action.

Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

It wasn’t so much a game of chess as a basketball match.

Blink and defence suddenly turned into attack for either side.

Both teams had great chances to put their necks out in front, yet were either denied by the two goalkeepers, the officials or VAR.

Mason Mount missed a couple of glorious openings, whilst thrice Chelsea had the ball in the back of the net, only for offside to intervene.

Liverpool also managed to send their supporters into rapturous rejoice, but also cursed the video assistant for picking up on a foul prior to their goal.

In the end, the ferocious and high-octane fixture was decided, rather cruelly, by spot-kicks.

With 21 attempts successfully converted, Kepa Arrizabalaga, a late substitute for the excellent Edouard Mendy, missed his effort by a few miles, therefore handing Jurgen Klopp the trophy.

Van Dijk applauds the Blues

That 20 minutes or so of penalty drama allowed Van Dijk to catch his breath for one of the few occasions during the contest.

“We knew today was going to be very intense. Chelsea are a very good team,” said the centre-back in light of Liverpool’s victory.

“All the games I’ve played against them in the last three season especially have been intense, open at times.

“Chelsea have got a fantastic team. At the back, up front, on the bench.

“Classic manager, tactically wise. He sets up his team to try and hurt us, like we did to them as well.  

“It was always going to be tough and intense because they take the risk as well by putting the pressure on us and try to get us on the sort of weak side. That’s how we sort of approached them as well.

“That’s what makes it unbelievable to play in.”

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Credit has to go to Van Dijk, who managed to cope pretty well with Chelsea’s constantly changing front line.

Tuchel started Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Mount together, before bringing on Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.

Down the other end, Trevoh Chalobah’s full return from injury earned him praise from his manager as he contained Luis Duiz, Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota.

But in the end, Chalobah’s hard work was for nothing as Liverpool ended the showdown in the capital as victors.

Better luck next time, Blues.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.