Jurgen Klopp says Virgil van Dijk’s absence has left the rest of the Liverpool team more defensive as the Reds boss praises Rhys Williams.
The 19-year-old Williams excelled in his Champions League debut as the Reds beat Atalanta 5-0 at Bergamo on Tuesday.
Goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane plus Diogo Jota’s hat-trick to score in Group D.
With Joel Matip still not fully fit and Fabinho and Van Dijk injured, Klopp̵7;s midfield options have been stretched to a late point as Williams and Nat Phillips have filled in the last two games.
Klopp said the likely end-of-season injury to Van Dijk forced the rest of the team to think more about how they defended as a unit as he gave much praise to “special” Williams.
Listen to Jurgen Klopp’s post-match press conference and more in the post-match podcast from Blood Red HERE
“We can start with Rhys – someone special,” said Klopp.
“I can’t imagine being 19 and playing my second professional football match in the Champions League against Duvan Zapata, it’s incredible!
“I was very worried, but the boy was not. Defending is clearly natural, and the way the team defends tonight is completely unbelievable.
“When you left the last line alone, which we did from time to time, we won every challenge.
“We had to change because Virg was no longer there, so we shared the responsibility, we put it on 10 players instead of one, and tonight, what the backline did was extremely good. , supported by all the others.
“Everyone has to step up now; Robbo, Trent and Joe, they’re in charge. If Joel plays it’s different but if it’s one of the young players, then they have to demand and command that squad.
“It was really fun to see. I couldn’t be happier for Rhys. You’ll see him in the dressing room, you need something special for the smile on his face to go off! It’s good to see. “
With the Red Devils currently 5 points at the top of the Champions League group, a home win over Atalanta on 25 November will put them in the final round of 16 of Europe’s top league.