It stands to reason that Virgil van Dijk remembers his Champions League debut for Liverpool fondly.
After all, the Dutchman marked the occasion by helping his then-new club to a remarkable 5-0 win over FC Porto at Estadio do Dragao in the Round of 16 a year ago.
A quirk of circumstance means that the same opponents await the Reds in this season’s quarter-finals, with the first leg taking place at Anfield on Tuesday.
Van Dijk, though, is not anticipating a similarly one-sided outcome this time around.
“I think it’s going to be very difficult anyway,” the centre-back told Liverpoolfc.com, when asked whether last term’s result may make this tie trickier due to the added motivation it could provide to Porto.
“I think the game we played over there, we won 5-0, it was obviously a bit of a strange one. Nobody really expected that result, but obviously we deserved to go through in that round.
“It’s going to be tough again and they obviously don’t want the same as what happened last year. They’re in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and that’s not for no reason. They deserve to be where they are right now so it’s going to be unbelievably tough to beat them.
“Last year, it [the European campaign] went quick for me personally. It was my debut in the Champions League for Liverpool and to reach the final in that same year obviously was special for me and, I think, for the whole club. But I think we obviously learned from what happened over there, we have to take it with us.
“This year has been up and down in the Champions League, in our campaign, but now obviously it’s a knockout and you have to do it over two games.”
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Liverpool certainly ‘did it’ over two legs in the previous round, when a goalless home draw with Bayern Munich was followed by a hugely impressive 3-1 victory at the Allianz Arena during which Van Dijk scored with a towering header.
Was that their finest display of 2018-19 so far?
“It was the best performance in the Champions League, I think, because it had so many things in it,” Van Dijk stated.
“It was mature, we obviously played very well in possession and defended very well. I think there were so many things that went well that evening, and we have to build on that.”
Just like that tie, the last-eight meeting with Sergio Conceicao’s side will conclude away from Anfield – but that makes no difference to the mindset of Van Dijk and his teammates.
“No, we approach the tie to win both games,” the No.4 said.
“To play at home, obviously we have to create a base to take with us to Porto because it’s going to be tough there.
“I think any team that plays over there finds it hard to play against them, so we have to create a base, try to keep a clean sheet and hopefully score some goals. Hopefully we can finish the job over there.”
The aforementioned victory against Bayern represents the second of what became a five-game winning run for Liverpool with last Friday’s 3-1 success at Southampton.
In each of those matches, the Reds have been forced to overcome the setback of either going behind or conceding an equaliser before eventually winning out – and that is a characteristic Van Dijk considers vital in the push for Champions League and Premier League glory.
He continued: “That’s obviously the most important thing – to find a solution or an option or something to get the win at all costs.
“Obviously no-one wants to concede, I don’t want to concede goals, but sometimes it happens and at this point we’ve found a way every time and hopefully we can keep that going. But let’s not concede and win games a little bit more easy!”