Virgil van Dijk has said Liverpool are determined to deliver an “unforgettable” season and their pursuit of an unprecedented treble should not be taken for granted.
Liverpool’s bid to add the Champions League and Premier League to their Carabao Cup triumph entered a crucial phase with visits to Benfica on Tuesday and Manchester City on Sunday. Ahead of the first leg of the quarter-finals in Lisbon, Van Dijk said the high stakes and the constant pressure on his team should be appreciated and that Liverpool’s position is cherished.
The commanding defender, asked if Liverpool have everything to gain or lose, replied: “We don’t see it that way. We just want to make this season hopefully an unforgettable season, for us as players, for the staff but for the whole club.
“The things that are happening at the moment at Liverpool are something that nobody should take for granted. As a group we are very stable, we have a fantastic team, with the manager, the whole relationship with the club and the performance. We should just take advantage of it: go ahead and give it our all.
“If that’s enough at the end of the season, then happy days. If not, we will try again next year. But we should not take what is happening for granted.
Liverpool are strong favorites to reach the Champions League semi-finals, where they will face either Bayern Munich or Villarreal, and Van Dijk, part of a defense that has conceded three goals in the last 13 matches, believes that Liverpool are well equipped to set the stage for the season.
“We are definitely more experienced [in big moments]. We’ve been in the situation Manchester City are in, we’ve been in the Champions League final, but only you can influence the game in front of you and that’s how we see it. Tomorrow is going to be a great one of both awaiting us.
Lisbon has fond memories for Jürgen Klopp. He was on vacation in the Portuguese capital with his family, during a planned year-long sabbatical from the game in 2015, when his agent, Marc Kosicke, called to confirm Liverpool wanted him as manager.
“It changed my life,” Klopp said of the call. “We were completely in the holiday mood. There were rumors that we didn’t really follow along, but with two wires around they pick up just about anything and so I knew from them that a few things could happen.
“The phone rings and I didn’t get many calls at the time because my family was there, but it was my agent, who is my friend, and when he said Liverpool were calling, the boys were looking at me. and at that moment for them the decision was made. Ulla [Klopp’s wife] so I had to give a thumbs up and it was clear we would because it felt right from the first second.
Almost seven years later, Klopp remains in contention to win a second Champions League and Premier League title as Liverpool manager. His side will also play in the FA Cup semi-final against City on April 16. He said: “I would like to say we were also champions in 2019 but we weren’t and I would like to say we also won the Champions League final in 2018. All that would have been great, but I don’t judge my time here too much on trophies.
“I know everyone does it, but it’s about the way we play and the way we develop and the way the club is and the position the club is in that’s a lot “Most importantly. At the moment it’s a healthy club in a good situation and these circumstances allow you to focus on football. That’s what we’re trying to do, but it’s really difficult.
“The stories about us are very positive at the moment and rightly so, the boys deserve it, but we all know a failure, a small misstep, and at least one competition can be canceled, so we have to make sure.
“There is no problem for us. We don’t feel brave, we just feel ready for the next challenge and that’s all I need, but there’s no big celebration of the club’s development in recent years, just work really seriously and I’m very happy about that.”
Benfica are through to the quarter-finals for the first time in six years but are third in the Primeira Liga, 12 points behind leaders Porto after Friday’s 3-2 loss at Braga.
Klopp said: “They are a team of footballers, willing to take risks. In the Champions League they outdo themselves. They weren’t favorites in their group and they weren’t favorites against Ajax [in the last 16] but they put them out. They know how to get a result.