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Dejan Lovren Admits He and Teammates Struggle For Motivation Against Lesser Sides

The Liverpool defender made an admission that's been clear to see in this season's results and points to a major problem.

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Fresh off both signing a hefty new contract to keep him at the club through the next four seasons as well as a match where he played a significant role in both Liverpool's goals conceded to Crystal Palace in their eventual 2-1 loss, all eyes will be on Dejan Lovren this evening when they face Watford at Vicarage Road.

Liverpool last week threw away three points and their control of their own top four destiny. Fortunately for them—and for Lovren—both Manchester City and United, the two sides competing with them for the final two Champions League berths, went and did the same thing this week, giving control back to the Reds.

"Mentally, we have to be prepared for the game, even though it's not like playing Manchester City, where you will find motivation without any big reason," Lovren told the club's website, a brief but telling answer given the club's struggles this year. "We have a big reason—it's the final four games for the Champions League."

Following last week's loss to Palace, Liverpool had lost six of the league's nine lowest placed sides—plus they still had games coming up against West Ham and Middlesbrough and had a victory to go with a disappointing draw against 20th place Sunderland. Preparing for the "small" games has been a problem for them.

It's a problem that has sunk their autumn title challenge and threatened their ability to finish in the top four, and if they are beaten to that by the two Manchester Clubs and fall to fifth and the Europa League, it will be their record against bottom-half teams that consigns them to it. That's a problem, a big one.

And it's a problem that falls either to the manager's methods for preparing them or to the players themselves, players like Lovren who has followed up a new £100k per week contract and an odious display against bottom-half Palace by admitting he struggles to find the motivation to play at his best against lesser opposition.

"For them, it is comfortable and they are safe, but we have something to reach for and this is the key point," he added. "Of course, it will be difficult—they have done quite well, have good players, and don't have pressure. But sometimes with pressure it can maybe be better to play because you're more focused on the game."

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