Champions League: Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk doing well on recovery trail

Kevin De Bruyne has revealed he has little recollection of the Champions League final.

ON THE MEND: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

The Manchester City playmaker suffered a serious facial injury in the second half of his side’s defeat to Chelsea in last season’s showpiece in Porto following a collision with Antonio Rudiger.

“I don’t remember a lot after the incident so there’s not a lot of memories,” said De Bruyne ahead of tonight’s Group A clash against Club Brugge in his native Belgium. “I remember some chances in the first half and the goal but after the collision, I don’t remember a lot. I don’t remember how I got into the hospital on the night itself.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I remember going back in the morning to the team hotel at 10am still with my City kit on, that’s what I remember.

Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates scoring against Liverpool at Anfield. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA

“But it’s sport, it happens.”

The injury also meant De Bruyne missed Belgium’s opening match at Euro 2020, a tournament which he then ended with ankle ligament damage. That issue in turn prevented him starting any of City’s first five Premier League matches of the new campaign.

The 30-year-old said: “There’s nothing I could do, I got tackled and my ligaments snapped. I just had to try to get back in the best way as possible. It was a little bit painful but I feel much better now and I’m happy about that.”

De Bruyne returned to Pep Guardiola’s starting line-up prior to the international break, featuring in all three games of the club’s blockbusting triple-header against Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Liverpool. He scored in the latter and followed up with another goal as they beat Burnley 2-0 on Saturday.

De Bruyne said: “I would say in the last six months it’s been up and down, playing and not really training. Now I feel myself getting stronger and I know the coaches are saying the same.”

Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk, meanwhile, knows he is being closely watched to see how well he has recovered from knee surgery but feels he still has plenty of room for improvement.

It is exactly a year to the day since the Netherlands captain was given the diagnosis by a specialist he would require an operation on an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee, after a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and his season was over.

After a full pre-season the Dutchman has played every minute of all eight Premier League matches so far, although he was rested for two Champions League ties against AC Milan and Porto as manager Jurgen Klopp was cautious not to overload his defensive linchpin. The Reds boss may not have that option against LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid tonight but Van Dijk is confident there is still more to come from him.

“I know there are a lot of eyes pointing in my direction, wondering ‘Is he going to be back in the same way’,” he said.

“They were already before but will be now even more, but it’s something I’m not thinking about. The only thing I can do is try my best each and every game.

“Everybody knows how difficult it is to come back from a knee injury. I don’t think there are a lot of examples of players who had an ACL and complex knee injury that gets back to his best after a year.

“I feel like I am improving. I have work to do but I don’t think about what others have to say or judge.”