DOHA, Qatar, Dec 22 – Liverpool have made winning trophies a habit in 2019 and Jurgen Klopp’s side return to England and to their push for the Premier League title galvanised after being crowned world champions in Qatar on Saturday.
It is an honour the Anfield side had never before claimed but which is now theirs after Roberto Firmino’s extra-time goal secured a 1-0 victory over Flamengo in a hard-fought Club World Cup final in Doha.
The latest piece of silverware is Liverpool’s third in little over six months, after they won the Champions League in June and began this season by winning the UEFA Supercup on penalties against Chelsea.
“The year 2019 for the club has been outstanding,” said defender Virgil van Dijk.
“But we shouldn’t be satisfied with it. We should keep going, keep striving for more, and keep wanting more trophies.”
Van Dijk returned against Flamengo after illness kept him out of the 2-1 semi-final victory against Monterrey and that determination to be back playing summed up Liverpool’s attitude towards the competition.
The Club World Cup is not held in the highest regard in Europe, coming in the middle of a busy club season.
That is in contrast to South America, with Flamengo’s huge support in Doha showing just how much Saturday’s game meant to them.
“It might have been different had we got beat, then maybe some people would have said we were wasting our time or whatever,” acknowledged Andy Robertson.
“But for us even if we did lose it was all worthwhile because we had a chance to win a trophy that the club had never won before.”
He added that “2019 has been incredible, we have won three trophies and hopefully in 2020 there is a couple more for us.”
Liverpool will continue their defence of the Champions League with a last-16 tie against Atletico Madrid in February, and host local rivals Everton in the FA Cup third round on January 5.
However, the Premier League is the one they really have in their sights as they seek a first English title since 1990.
– Leicester beaten –
As well as the trophies in 2019, Klopp’s team have not lost a league game since their very first outing of the year, at Manchester City. They have won 25 and drawn one of their last 26 in the Premier League.
There was more good news for them on Saturday as nearest rivals Leicester City lost 3-1 at Manchester City, leaving Liverpool 10 points clear at the top with a game in hand.
Klopp’s squad have little time for celebrations, however, as they return to England to prepare to visit Leicester on Thursday.
But while a week in Qatar might have seemed like an unwanted distraction for some in a busy schedule, Klopp was keen to point out that his team have still played the same number of games as their challengers.
“If we hadn’t played here tonight we would have played at West Ham, so the same number of games, the same situation, and the difference is the climate, even if it was not as warm as probably Europeans would have expected at the moment,” said the German.
“It is still something we have to adapt to. But that is the only thing that is special, so it’s all good, and we need to make sure that we come home safely, and recover in the plane already, and then prepare the Leicester game.”
With several players already out, however, the downside was seeing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain go off hurt in the second half against Flamengo, and the midfielder may be set for another spell on the sidelines.
“When he was landing he got a kick and rolled over. It is far away from being perfect, but we will see if the ligament is only stretched, or ruptured partly,” Klopp said.
“It’s a big shadow again but that’s how it is in contact sport.”