Belfast Telegraph

One stumble could end Liverpool's bid for dream Premier League and Champions League double: Van Dijk

Not getting carried away: Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk isn’t getting ahead of himself in terms of success
Not getting carried away: Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk isn’t getting ahead of himself in terms of success

By Carl Markham

Virgil Van Dijk insists Liverpool's players are refusing to contemplate a Premier League-Champions League double as they know one stumble could derail that dream.

It was impossible for the Holland international to disagree with the suggestion that Jurgen Klopp's side could win both competitions, but he stressed that lifting trophies could not be further from their minds at present.

Liverpool lead the Premier League by two points from Manchester City, who have a match in hand, and host Porto on Tuesday in the first leg of a favourable Champions League quarter-final draw.

"We are still in the race, so it's possible. But I think it's still a bit too far to think about it," said Van Dijk when asked about any potential double.

"We have to take it game by game. We know in the Premier League any points dropped or slip-up can end our title dreams.

"That's the same for them (City), so the only thing we can do is just keep going.

"The only thing we can do is focus ahead of us, first Porto and after that Chelsea. It's the only way we should think.

"I don't think there's any time for slip-ups in the Champions League either.

"Porto are at this stage as they deserve to be, they are going to be coming for revenge as well.

"We just need to keep doing what we have been doing all season; playing well, defending well and enjoying every bit of it as well."

The way Liverpool's season has panned out, with just one defeat in 33 league matches and a number of late goals keeping their title challenge on track, has led to suggestions they are destined to finally end their long wait for a domestic title.

Van Dijk was asked whether he thought it was "their time".

"Hopefully. That's the only answer I can give you. Everyone is dreaming of it," he added.

"The unlucky bit for us is some other team in the league has been amazing as well.

"For a neutral Premier League watcher it's a great view, it's nice to see two good teams challenging for the title. Hopefully it can all be something great at the end of the season but we can already keep our heads up very high."

Victory at Southampton coupled with Arsenal's defeat at Everton ensured Klopp's side are already guaranteed a return to the Champions League.

But Van Dijk rejected suggestions that should ease the pressure in Europe.

"We should play with freedom anyway, also in the Premier League, because otherwise we can't show our qualities properly," he said.

"But it's game by game. Tomorrow will be a big game because hopefully we set a base to take to Porto, we know how tough it can be over there."

Liverpool will be without suspended left-back Andy Robertson against Porto, who were beaten 5-0 at home when the two teams met in the last 16 last season, and Van Dijk admits it will be a loss.

"Of course he is going to be missed," said the Dutchman.

"For me personally he's having an amazing season. He is the best left-back in the country.

"We are definitely going to miss him but it is how it is. I didn't play against Bayern and Fabinho did the job fantastically.

"Now someone else needs to fill the spot tomorrow and I'm very confident that they will be fine."

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