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Liverpool’s FA Cup victory completes the double, but can they shake off the fatigue to win two more this season?


LONDON — Liverpool are leaving absolutely nothing on the pitch in their quest for the quadruple. There are now two to go, two to go, after a second Cup final penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea this season, Jurgen Klopp’s side added the FA Cup to the Carabao Cup they won at Wembley he three months ago. But with Mohamed Salah limping off with a groin injury after just 33 minutes and Virgil van Dijk unable to play beyond the 90th minute, time will tell the full cost of that victory over Thomas Tuchel’s side, who saw Chelsea earn the unenviable distinction of becoming the first team in FA Cup history to lose the final in three consecutive seasons.

“We are mentality monsters, but there were also mentality monsters in blue,” Klopp said. “It was a penalty [between the teams]. Chelsea played exceptionally but in the end there has to be a winner and that was us today.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my boys, the change they brought about, the strength with which they fought, the first changes.”

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History tends not to remember losers, and Chelsea’s failure to win again will quickly be drowned out by a red tide of applause from Liverpool. Even though they win nothing else this season, Liverpool have already achieved a domestic cup double, a feat they last achieved in 2001 and that year they also lifted a major European trophy. defeating Spanish club Alaves to win the UEFA Cup.

Klopp’s remarkable side are still on track to repeat that cup treble by beating Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, but before that they could lay the groundwork for a treble. unprecedented by overtaking Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title. This remains the most difficult and unlikely goal for Liverpool to achieve. City can move six points ahead with two games to go with a win at West Ham on Sunday, but whatever the result at the London Stadium, Klopp’s players will have to go to the pit again at Southampton on Tuesday, needing to win to keep them alive their title hopes.

From Kostas Tsimikas’ decisive penalty, which settled Saturday’s cup final 6-5 in favor of Liverpool, to the kick-off in Southampton, Klopp’s side have just 72 hours to recover from the physical toll and emotional of this exhausting victory at Wembley. And that’s the biggest problem Liverpool now face in their four-pronged quest: do they have enough time to play, win and recover before their next challenge?

At the end of extra time, Liverpool players could barely run. They were so exhausted by the demands of facing the outgoing European champions that the penalties actually offered a form of physical relief. Luis Diaz, who netted six times in a sensational performance down the left, was replaced by Roberto Firmino seven minutes after extra time because he had exhausted his energy reservoir, while left-back Andy Robertson was replaced by Tsimikas in the 110th minute.

When Liverpool take on Real in Paris, Diaz and Robertson will be two of the first names on Klopp’s squad sheet, so their withdrawal to Wembley was significant in that it indicated their manager was careful not to push them too far. and risk being injured. . That spell has already hit Fabinho, who missed the game with a hamstring strain suffered in the 2-1 win at Aston Villa in midweek, but Klopp is confident the Brazilian midfielder will be fit to face Real.

However, there will be concerns over Salah and Van Dijk. Both are crucial to the Liverpool squad – arguably their most important players, alongside goalkeeper Alisson Becker – so to be without them in Paris would be a hammer blow. Yet they could also be needed at Southampton and, if Liverpool win this game, at home to Wolves in the season finale next Sunday.

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Klopp is a sensible manager and he won’t risk his best players unless the stakes are so high he just has to, but Liverpool are now at the stage where every game is huge. These are all games to be won, but the players can only push their physical and psychological limits so far and the situation with Fabinho, Salah and Van Dijk is proof of that.

“I think Virgil is fine, but his muscle has been injured,” Klopp said, in an attempt to play down concerns about his centre-half.

Even though they are all capable of wearing themselves out in Southampton on Tuesday, their muscles and minds are starting to feel the heat, so everything is now a risk for Klopp. Liverpool are clinging to the quadruple with their fingertips, but they still have some grip and that’s remarkable given their workload.

They are now potentially two weeks away from history. Two down, two to go, but the next two are the hardest to win, especially with the injuries starting to pile up.

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