Another international break is done. The final international break of the 2018-19 season. With that, the players now return to focus on club football for the next two months. There will be relegation battles and qualification hopes and dreams of silverware.
And for Liverpool, the games will matter more than for most, with a one-point lead at the top of the Premier League table—though Manchester City have a game in hand—and seven games to play plus a Champions League quarter final on the horizon.
“We are in the race for the Premier League, and in the race for the Champions League,” star centre half Virgil van Dijk said when asked about shifting his attention back to club football. “It is going to be very tough but we will challenge until the end in both.
“The experience Liverpool had in getting to the Champions League final last year will help, but it doesn’t guarantee anything this season. Porto are a very difficult team to play against. They are not in the quarter-finals for no reason, and we have to be ready.”
Liverpool have a pair of league games, against Tottenham on Sunday and then a Friday match against Southampton—giving them extra time to prepare for the first leg against Porto on April 9th. Then Chelsea, Porto again, Cardiff, and Huddersfield.
It’s going to be a busy month, and Liverpool may need to win out in the league and Europe for things to still matter come May. And for Van Dijk, how he does individually will impact both whether there is silverware to come along with any personal accolades.
“We have not had the voting yet,” he said when asked about talk that he could be the first defender to win PFA Player of the Year since John Terry in 2004-05. “I am not sure who I will vote for but everyone knows a couple of players have been outstanding.”