Virgil van Dijk, a player who has had much to do with Liverpool’s success so far this season, faces Porto tonight with the defender admitting that there is no margin for error in his team’s quest for glory on two fronts.
Much has been made of rivals Manchester City’s bid for four honours, but Liverpool stand just 10 games from potentially winning both the Premier League and Champions League titles, an outcome that would be almost as spectacular.
It’s an intriguing stage of the season, and one in which a single slip could cost either team dear.
But as the Dutch defender prepared for the Champions League quarter-final first leg at Anfield, van Dijk insisted that his side is well equipped to cope with such pressure.
“We are still in the race so it’s possible,” said van Dijk of the possibility of a memorable Liverpool double. “But I think it’s still a bit too far to think about it.
“We have to take it game by game. We know that any points that we drop or any slip-up can cost us.
“That’s the same for them, so the only thing we can do is just keep going. That starts tomorrow for us in the Champions League.
“We have been doing pretty well all season. Obviously we had a bit of a little period, maybe two or three weeks, where we didn’t play as well as we wanted but overall we have consistently been playing very well throughout the whole season. We have to just keep it going until the end of the season.”
Given the weight of history currently burdening Liverpool as they seek to end a 29-year wait for an English league title, a European crown actually looks marginally the ‘easier’ target for van Dijk and his teammates.
City’s impressive form has certainly complicated that effort although, given their excellent consistency over the last eight months, Jurgen Klopp’s side clearly has both trophies in their aim.
“Hopefully. That’s the only answer I can give you. Everyone is dreaming of it,” he said.
“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.
“We have so much quality in the team, so much talent, the hard work that we put in every day in training.
“You want to go that extra yard for your teammates and that’s something that’s very important. It has been shown throughout the whole season.”
Van Dijk’s impact, in the 16 months since he moved to Liverpool from Southampton, has been little short of astonishing.
His form has him heavily tipped as a contender for player-of-the-year honours although, after the loss to Real Madrid in last seasons Champions League final, van Dijk, who yesterday voted for Raheem Sterling to get the gong, is all too aware he has yet to win an honour with his club.
“To come in at such a stage last season, we already achieved quite a lot in that short period,” he said.
“It was something I was really proud of and I was definitely looking forward to this season and this season hasn’t been going too bad either.
“But at the end of the day, we have nothing at the moment and have to keep working. Things have been happening really quickly and I’ve been enjoying every bit of it.
“Liverpool as a club if you look at the whole season and results we have had especially at Anfield, we are going to be favourites tomorrow night.
“But that’s something we experience almost every game. We have to just enjoy it. Perform tomorrow night, that’s the most important thing.”
Liverpool have reported no new injuries ahead of the first leg Anfield tie although they will be without impressive left-back Andy Robertson through suspension.
James Milner looks favourite to deputise in that position although van Dijk was quick to point out that his side has already coped with enforced absences in this season’s Champions League run, when he himself was ruled out of the last 16 clash with Bayern Munich.
“Of course he is going to be missed,” said van Dijk. “Together with myself we have been playing in the back four most of the games.
“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.”