Loris Karius believes the emotions of reaching the Champions League final will ensure Liverpool won’t allow any let-up in their performance level in their final two Premier League fixtures.
The Reds take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this afternoon before welcoming Brighton & Hove Albion to Anfield on the campaign’s final day next Sunday.
Three more points will ensure a top-four finish – and even with a Champions League final against Real Madrid to contest on May 26, Karius insists he and his teammates will be going all out to make sure they are back in the competition again next term.
The goalkeeper told Liverpoolfc.com: “The feeling of [progression to the final on] Wednesday won’t help us, but when you reach the final of the Champions League, playing in it for a whole season, then you realise how much fun it is, how good it is.
“That’s all you need to know going into these games. You want to qualify, to be part of it again next season, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get the focus back on it [the Premier League].
“It won’t be easy, Chelsea are a really strong team who’ve been having a good run recently. They’ve had the whole week to rest and prepare for us, so they’ll be ready. They’ll make a fight, they play at home, so we have to be on it straight away.
“We have to push ourselves because Wednesday wasn’t easy, it was a lot of work, so we have to recover well and then push ourselves over the limit again to get something there. If we get a draw or a win, it pretty much means we are qualified, so I would rather do the job on Sunday rather than leave it for the last home game against Brighton. The sooner the better, so why not on Sunday? But it’s going to be really difficult.
“We have to be on it, go at 100 per cent. It won’t be easy, but that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Given Liverpool’s superior goal difference over Chelsea, a draw at Stamford Bridge would all but ensure a place in the top four, while a win for the hosts would give them extra hope as they look to make up ground on the Reds and fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Nevertheless, Karius feels Jürgen Klopp’s side will be going out with the intention of clinching all three points.
“We’re not a team that plays for a draw; we’d rather play for three points,” he stated. “That’s what we always aim for. That’s going to be our aim again. It will be difficult but we go there to win the game, everyone knows the situation.
“They’ll be at it straight away. They’ll knows it’s their last chance to put the pressure on us even more. They’ll know there is still a little chance to maybe qualify, so they have to try and take it and they’ll be on it.
“That’s obvious, but we don’t have to be scared or afraid because we’re ahead of them for a reason. We’ve got more points for a reason. We’re really, really strong. It’s going to be a good game, an exciting one for the fans to watch.”
While supporters have spent the last few days celebrating the achievement of reaching the final and plotting routes to make it to Kiev later this month, Liverpool’s players and staff have been firmly focused on the task in hand at Stamford Bridge.
And that’s why Karius is confident the showpiece against Madrid won’t prove a distraction in these final two league fixtures.
He added: “We achieved it, we can be proud of it, but now we have to do the work again in the league and then we’ll go to Kiev after that.
“It’s three weeks away. When we’ve finished the league, there’ll still be two weeks to prepare for the final, so there’s no need to think about it too early. There’s still plenty of time, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem. Everyone will focus on the Premier League now and when it’s done, there will be two weeks to fully focus on the final.
“Maybe it’s good it’s still all to play for so you don’t lose any tension or whatever, we need to be fully focused on the last two games. It’s not like playing two friendly games, then you have two weeks without a game and then we go to Kiev. It’s good that we keep the tension high and have important games coming up.”