Roy Keane heaps the praise on Liverpool ahead of the Champions League semi-finals
Roy Keane has been critical of his old foes in the past, but even he couldn't deny the brilliance of Jürgen Klopp's side against Manchester City.
Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane has heaped praise on Liverpool after Tuesday night's victory over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium, a win that secured a 5-1 aggregate scoreline in the Champions League quarter-final.
Keane has not been given to praising (arguably) United's biggest rivals in the past, but even the Corkman couldn't deny the mix of defensive solidity and attacking flair that has seen the Reds progress to the last four of Europe's biggest club competition.
He had particular praise for Virgil van Dijk and Andrew Robertson, both of whom have joined Liverpool in the last 12 months and steadied a defence that had been frequently criticised for a lack of concentration.
"We have always felt they were a goal threat, but I think they have improved defensively over the last few months and you have to give the manager and players great credit for it," Keane stated during ITV's coverage of Real Madrid v Juventus on Wednesday night.
"The defence early in the season was always a concern for me. When you look at some of the performances away from home at Man City (lost 5-0) and at Spurs (lost 4-1)... you just felt they were going to concede against the big teams.
"You look at the start of the campaign, they had an easy group. Then we questioned how strong Porto were, but now they have beaten Man City, teams will have to take them seriously because of the goals they are getting.
"I still think if you are in the Liverpool camp, you will want to avoid Real Madrid."
Discussing the impact of van Dijk and Robertson, he added:
"They have improved that over the last few months," he said. "With the signing (of Van Dijk), Robertson has come in and done really well, he is sticking with the same goalkeeper now and there is a lot of confidence in their back four. They deserve huge credit for it.
"(Van Dijk) has come in and done well. He has been a big presence and helped the other players around him and that is what the really good players do."
Keane was also quick to dismiss criticism of City, despite a week in which they have twice lost to Liverpool while also conceding a 2-0 lead over United to lose 3-2, and with it the chance to win the Premier League title against their city rivals.
"If you look at the bigger picture, they have played some outstanding football and have just had a difficult week where things have caught up with them. They will still be content in a few weeks when they win the league."