Liverpool have already won one trophy this season and have another three to play for, and Van Dijk says the Reds should relish the pressure as games mount up
The Reds could play 16 games in 56 days between April 2 and May 28, should they reach the Champions League and FA Cup finals, with the first eight already guaranteed in an insane April. Yet Anfield icon Van Dijk says that far from worrying about the intensity of a programme that will see them play every three days over the next month, the entire Liverpool squad wants it – because it is what they signed up for.
“Hopefully this will happen every season!” he said with a smile after an FA Cup quarter-final win over Nottingham Forest sent them back to Wembley for the second time in this remarkable campaign. “Obviously, this is something we will want first and foremost – it’s something you should enjoy, these nights when you have everything to fight for. That is what we want.
“I think everyone, not even the younger guys, but all of us, should just enjoy it. Of course it’s tough, because you always want to play as well as you can, and there are moments when you can’t. These moments always happen, but you just give it your all, enjoy the moment and focus again on the next big challenge. We are going to Wembley again, and that is good!”
Liverpool’s April looks like the ultimate football fixture list. In just 11 days they will face Benfica twice in the Champions League quarter final, and Manchester City twice, in the FA Cup semi and a title showdown at the Etihad. The two following games are Manchester United and Everton, and after that they will face Bayern Munich, if they beat Benfica in Europe… all before the end of the month.
It is a mind-blowing programme created by their unprecedented chase of a quadruple. No English team has ever got even close to still chasing a quadruple deep into April, yet they have a fantastic opportunity of taking it into May. In a Covid-hit season that has placed massive pressure on the fixture list, with the Reds unsure when they can even rearrange a postponed Premier League visit to Aston Villa.
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But Van Dijk says the equation is simple: they came to Liverpool to win as many trophies as possible, and so it is no stupid complaining when they have the chance to do that so gloriously this season. “I think one of the first things you don’t have to forget is: enjoy it. It’s something you should enjoy (having this opportunity),” he said to the club website.
“We’ve done it so far, so that’s what we have to do in April as well. An international break now, we have to fight for our countries in a good way hopefully, a change of scenery and hopefully everyone comes back fit and healthy. Then look after yourself, come back, prepare well and fight again with everything.”